The trial of the 108 members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which began in Ankara, was adjourned until May 3 2021. Ümit Dede, the vice co-chair of the HDP’s Law and Human Rights Commission and defence lawyers held a press conference in Ankara on Tuesday to share their thoughts on the first day of hearing.
The scenes witnessed by journalists outside the court were reflected inside the court as well, Ümit noted. “The presiding judge, clerks and all of the court staff completely ignored the defence. We felt the need to organise a press conference to highlight what actually happened during that extraordinary hearing,” he said.
Referring to the social media posts and the press statements of the Turkish state authorities, including the Turkish minister of interior Süleyman Soylu, Dede said, “We have witnessed the crime of governmental authorities interfering with the judiciary all day long of the first hearing. The judge, who had been kind and sensitive to the right of the defence in another trial held just a month ago in the same courtroom, compeletely changed his attitude. He was mocking, cynical and rude.”
Cahit Kırkazak, the lawyer of HDP’s former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been jailed in Silivri Prison since 2016, stressed that the attitude of the court showed the mentality of a “one-man” regime.
“The court proceeded with complete ignorance of defence procedures and our lawyer colleagues. There was a provocative and offensive attitude. There was also extreme security measures on such a level that the seats left for the lawyers were filled by law enforcement and security forces,” Kırkazak said.
Kırkazak shared his observation that despite such a dark picture painted by the scenes, there was also solidarity. “We also witnessed lawyers solidarity after some of our colleagues were not let in the court. The presiding judge had a clear ‘attitude’ against us. He acutally revealed his insecurity.”
Cemile Turhalı Balsak, the lawyer of Democratic Regions Party (DBP) former co-chair Sebahat Tuncel, who has been jailed since 2016.
“There are many examples of special cases like this that have a ‘special agenda’. For the ‘special agenda’ of this case not to be revealed, the court showed a clear stance, rejecting all our demands, not giving us a chance to speak a single word, placing law enforcement and security forces on our seats,” Turhalı Balsak said.
She added: “The defendants and the public should have trust and be convinced that the court is not biased, and that this court will be objective. But there was not even an effort to this in this regard. My client Sebahat Tuncel’s demand for rejecting the court’s board was rejected, so was Figen Yüksekdağ’s and Selahattin Demirtaş’s.
“They proceeded to read the part of the indictment regardless of all the errors in procedure and principle and despite our efforts to highlight these. This trial cannot be justified, cannot proceed without the proper procedure and principles. This is a pirate trial.”