Monday, January 18, 2010

27 Journalists Each Sentenced to More than Six Years in Jail

BIA 18.01.2009- DİHA journalist Ersin Çelik was sentenced to six years and 3 months imprisonment under allegations of membership to the Patriotic Democratic Youth Council. He was sentenced together with another 27 defendants. The convicts will file an appeal against the decision.
The Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court sentenced 27 people to 6 years and 3 months in jail each. Dicle News Agency (DİHA) journalist Ersin Çelik is among the convicts sentenced under charges of "membership to PKK", the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party.

The court took its decision in the last hearing on 14 January. The case was initiated upon the testimony of Recep Sade made in March 2008 and resulted in the conviction of 27 people of a total of 30 defendants.

Lawyers: No further evidence besides Sade's statement
The lawyers of the defendants declared to file an appeal against the decision. They argued that the whole file indicates that Sade's statement was made upon the directive of the police. The attorneys claimed that the file does not contain any further evidence pointing to the alleged crime.

The 30 defendants were part of a group of almost 100 people being accused of membership to the Patriotic Democratic Youth Council (YDGM) which is connected to the PKK. The defendants were taken into custody in cities like Malatya, Elazığ, Erzincan and Tunceli on 31 March 2008. 24 defendants were released from detention after two months and were tried un-detained.

The 30 un-detained defendants tried in the hearing on 14 January did not appear at court but were represented by their lawyers. The attorneys repeated the defence they had made in the previous hearing, stating that Recep Sade merely said that he 'recognized' the defendants. They emphasized that Sade did not recognize several people subject to his testimony in the first hearing when he was confronted with them. Furthermore, the attorneys stressed the fact that Sade also addressed a number of defendants with wrong names.

Punishment despite statement in favour of the journalist
Journalist Çelik's lawyer Hasan Doğan pointed out that his client, as a DİHA Agency journalist, was working in and around the province of Şırnak at the south-eastern tip of Anatolia. Therefore, Çelik could de facto not have been seen in the central Anatolian province of Malatya. Lawyer Doğan underlined that the only thing Sade said about his client was "I know him. He is a DİHA journalist".

In the confrontation in the hearing on 2 June 2008, Sade said about Çelik: "I know him. He works for the Dicle News Agency. He does not have any connections to YDGM", Doğan recalled. "This statement is not against but in favour of my client", Doğan said and requested Çelik's acquittal. (EÖ/VK)