KEMAL GÖKTAŞ/CANAN COŞKUN
Following the opinion by hearing prosecutor Hacı Hasan Bölükbaşı seeking continuation of detention, our detained columnists and managers were given the right to speak.
Our Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay, who was the first to speak, submitted documents showing that, while the former Cumhuriyet Foundation management board member, Mustafa Pamukoğlu, who was heard by the court as a witness, had asserted the contrary, his duties as accountant had ended in 2008 at the time of İlhan Selçuk, along with the foundation executive board resolutions of January 2012. Atalay also submitted to the court resolutions on the sale of certain properties due to financial constraints in the previous managerial period.
Atalay spoke as follows: “I have said that the Foundation Executive Board has been in the Foundation Deeds since the foundation was established, but in view of your questions to the witnesses, I will make clear as if proving the world not to be flat that the Executive Board has existed ever since the foundation was established. It says in Item 7 of the resolution dated January 2012 that “It has been established as a principle that the Foundation Executive Board will be informed when new columnists are employed.” It was resolved unanimously for periodic cooperation meetings to be held between the Foundation Executive Board and the Yeni Gün Executive Board. My signature is absent from that resolution because I am one who believes in editorial independence. My signature is absent because I opposed approval by the foundation when columnists were taken on.
The democratic level
This trial has become a photograph of the democratic level to which Turkey with all its persons and institutions has been brought. I am one of those who looks at this photograph and is filled with sorrow. We cannot conceive of this trial independently of the judicial climate and Turkey’s circumstances. The grounds for the continuation of my detention relate to “flight and tampering with evidence” in relation to the charges of aiding raised against me. That is, an opinion has been formed in advance over the charge of aiding. The court bench sees fit for the punishment that it may later hand down for the count of aiding to be imposed now in advance.
Conscience, equity and justice
Judges pass decision in accordance with their intimate convictions in keeping with the constitution and statute. I am a jurist, too. We studied the same courses. At legal faculties, at least at the time I was studying, it was explained that conscience, equity and justice were very important concepts. I do not imagine it has changed. It was explained that, since the constitution, statute and the law were generally abstract written texts, different interpretations were possible, and under a word-for-word implementation injustice and wrong might occur, so the element of conscience is sought in a judgment. This prevents inequitable justice. But, it is evident from the way this trial is conceived that we cannot appeal to conscience, justice and equity. Leaving conscience to one side, I wish to say the following based on statute. I know that the political rulership is keeping every institution under pressure and prevents us from seeking recourse to legal principles. According to provisions that still appear to be in force, it says that the constitution can be limited in state of emergency periods but these limits must not breach the proportionality principle. Your bench must take the time spent in detention in passing its ruling.
It is documented that we are one of the worst countries in terms of press freedom in various international organisations’ reports. We are all living under a judicial landslide. The trial being heard here is such that the more you delved into the file, injustice gushed out. However much injustice and lawlessness I have suffered, I will not abandon the demand of justice for all. I hope that as a society we will escape safe and sound from this great scourge.
Cumhuriyet people’s shared fate
The charge of aiding FETO is nonsense. Especially for it to be raised by a prosecutor who is being prosecuted on FETO-related charges is even more nonsensical. We Cumhuriyet people experience a shared fate, as do journalists in general but Cumhuriyet people in particular. This fate is the sanction of threat, intimidation, closure, imprisonment and undergoing assassination that has continued unabated for 93 years. But journalists will not submit to these threats and will pay their price with a modest patience. We will not bow to intimidation, either, because Cumhuriyet’s history expects this. True journalists and good people on the outside wish us to display this stance. We cannot cause them shame.”
He reminded the judge of his own decision
Atalay also read the comment, “It must not be forgotten that a judge does not rule purely in accordance with the law and conscience. Steps must also be taken that satisfy society’s conscience within the bounds of current statute” in a decision that presiding judge Dağ rendered in April 2016 when he was Istanbul Penal Court of First Instance No 2’s judge.