Justice once more failed to emerge from Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27 which is conducting the trial into the case that our columnists and managers demolished in legal terms on 24 July thanks to their defences and allegations. The bench, ordering the continued detention of our Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, our Executive Board Chair Akın Atalay, our editorial consultant and columnist Kadri Gürsel, our reporter Ahmet Şık and our accounting employee Emre İper, did not even enter different grounds in its ruling this time round ordering the continuation of detention.
The court bench presided over by Judge Abdurrahman Orkun Dağ, just as it had done in its ruling in connection with the first hearing that lasted from 24 July to 28 July, repeated the need for, “Taking account of the capacities the defendants acted in and the duties they undertook and the period over which they served, an assessment ‘taking actions in conjunction’.” The court, just as in its previous interim ruling, was referring to Akın Atalay and Murat Sabuncu with this assertion. But, as we pointed out following the previous interim ruling, apart from our Book Supplement Editor Turhan Günay, all our released colleagues served as Cumhuriyet Foundation management board members, too. This also comes as one of the most important pieces of evidence that enemy penal law is being applied to our colleagues who were not released at the second hearing.
The court repeated in its decision the need for “consideration to be given in discussing the defendants’ connection to the evidence to the defendants’ inevitable links and causal ties with the unapprehended defendants by virtue of the manner in which the defendants assumed their positions and the description, nature and function of the duties undertaken.”
The people the court was referring to as the “unapprehended defendants” are our former Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar, and İlhan Tanır. The bench, which included the same obsession in its previous interim ruling, heard one of our former editors-in-chief, İbrahim Yıldız, as a witness at Monday’s hearing. Yıldız said in his testimony to the court that a joint resolution had been passed for Can Dündar to join the newspaper as a columnist. However, this testimony by İbrahim Yıldız, one of the witnesses selected by the prosecution, was neither capable of stemming the obsession with Dündar on the bench nor sufficed for release to be ordered. Moreover, Dündar was not editor-in-chief when our colleagues Murat Sabuncu, Ahmet Şık and Kadri Gürsel took up their posts at Cumhuriyet.
The closest witnesses
The court, in precisely copying the ruling, also repeated the assertion that duress could be placed on witnesses who had not been heard. However, the witnesses who are currently on our paper’s staff gave testimony at this session and, furthermore, stated that the prosecution cherry picked their own statements. The fact that our seven columnists and managers who were released on 28 July also have active duties on the paper made nonsense of the possibility of duress being placed on witnesses.
Not a single word of explanation was included in the ruling ordering the continuation of detention about the charge raised against our editorial consultant and columnist Kadri Gürsel over telephone calls with ByLock users and suspects in FETO investigations. On the contrary, member judge Halit İçdemir, noting that in view of the period Gürsel had spent in detention and considering that the witnesses had to a large extent been heard and the evidence had been gathered there was no possibility of tampering with the evidence, argued that Gürsel should be released.
Hearing in two weeks
The bench ordered the next hearing to be held on 25 September at 14.30 at Istanbul Judicial Complex in Çağlayan.
İper’s phone will be examined at last
With reference to our accounting employee Emre İper who was detained on the charge that he used ByLock, the prosecution made no examination of his phone at the investigation stage. Not only was no examination made, but the Anti-Cyber Crime Branch Directorate used İper’s messages for the family on the WhatsApp program on the evening of 15 July to fill the empty file. Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 27, which accepted the indictment against İper without the prosecution having conducted this examination, made no order for this examination to be conducted in its decision to accept the indictment, either. The court only came to the realisation that this examination was necessary at the 11 September hearing and ordered the phone to be sent to the expert. The court has decided, even if belatedly, to conduct the examination that the prosecution did not make.