A CALL FROM WHERE JUSTICE HAS VANISHED! BY MUSTAFA BALBAY
A CALL FROM WHERE JUSTICE HAS VANISHED! BY MUSTAFA BALBAY
January 13, 2013 by Ataturk Society UK
A call from where justice has vanished!
(Hukukun bittigi yerden)
(An innocent journalist in a Turkish dungeon)
Here is my call: In this age of such widespread and rich communication channels
let everyone inform every other one that he/she does not accept this lawlessness.
What we have lived through in the court on September 18, 2012 summarizes the stage the Ergenekon trials have reached.
The trial conditions of that day went one step further in lawlessness; it was declared that no written communication, including petitions would be allowed to be exchanged between the defendants and their lawyers, and that such documents were to be examined by the judge first before being delivered to the parties involved.
I wanted to ask the presiding judge why such a measure was undertaken, prevailing the
conditions in which the right to defend oneself was so much restricted and turned almost into a torture. In the afternoon session as I raised my hand to ask permission to speak, judge told me that he would not allow it. I tried to explain why I wanted to speak. I said the following:
“Honourable judge, you no longer allow us to submit our requests and you no longer let us talk about procedural rules. You put a distance between us and our lawyers. Today you also restrict our dialog with them. Which law does allow you to act in this way?”
This of course was also the case for all other defendants. They wanted to speak about this unjust and illegal situation. Upon this the senior judge adjourned the session and left the court room with the other judges. As the judges left the court room some other defendants and I were still in the hall. At that moment the prosecutor Mehmet Ali Pekgüzel turned to me and said:
“Mr. Balbay, the senior judge will not allow oral requests. Why don’t you make a written request, asking for a permission to speak?”
In some way I had just wanted, for the record, to tell the committee of judges the injustices we were being subjected to on that day which would follow in the future. I wrote a petition and forwarded it to the senior judge via Mr. Hasan, the clerk of the court.
On that day the court continued the trial without the defendant in compliance with the request of the witness. We were all taken to the court room around 17:30 in the afternoon. The senior judge announced the court’s decisions in our presence.
In that decision, my “leaving” the court room was also listed among my “crimes”, although there were video records of every instant and everything which had happened as I explained above. I was always present in the court room and no one had left the court room with the purpose of protesting. There were several microphones hanging above and every instant of the trials were being recorded by video cameras so that the audio and visual records could be synchronized. The journalists, the lawyers and the audience were in the court room.
If the court committee could produce such perverted records against the facts even in
the case of such strictly recorded events with witnesses, let the readers consider what kind of a court this is!
I want to share with you step by step where we are in the Ergenekon trials:
1- Although the case appears to continue with trials taking place openly in front of everyone it has
actually been forgotten. The case encompasses 22 cases gathered together in a single document comprising of 120 million pages of written material and whatever the witness of the day says which makes somewhat of a news item in daily newspapers. That’s all. It is no longer a court case. It takes a different form, depending on where it is looked at and therefore it has turned into a pseudo entity impossible to define.
2- The Specially Authorised Courts (ÖYM) will be abolished when they are done with
the cases they are handling. In other words, considering the volume and complexity of the Ergenekon case, the legality of these courts will be as long as that of the latter. So a court in the process of dissolution is handling the so called trial of the century. No such practice can be observed in a lawful and just state.
3 – These courts, whose destinies have been tied to the cases they are handling, feel as though they are free to apply the laws passed by the National Assembly. They generate their own rules of trial. They assume the right to self-authorize. Such a practice had not been seen even in the darkest days of Turkish history.
4- When the National Assembly had enacted the so called 3rd Judicial Set of Law Amendments (3rd Justice Package), it was assumed that it would be more difficult to extend detention periods and that the courts would be obliged to justify the detention of each defendant separately. But the courts in Silivri did just the opposite and made it easier to extend detention periods. Before the 3rd package, defendants used to be given the right of oral defence once a month. Re-examination of detention was done after this 15-minute long oral defence. This practice was discontinued in Silivri as of July 2012. On September 18, 2012, we were banned from attending the
trials for the extension of 16 hearing.
5- There is no law or trial in Silivri but punishment. The only thing we are waiting for is when the punishments will be announced. No conscience can live with this. We have reached the point where justice is non-existent. Everyone is under threat as long as this torture continues. In this age of such widespread and rich communication channels let everyone inform every other one that he/she does not accept this lawlessness.
Who knows, perhaps we are many!