In 2018, five Kurdish activists were arrested in Stuttgart, Germany on charges related to article 129b of the German Penal Code. The article covers prosecutions associated with support of a “terrorist organisation in a foreign country” and is applied politically to criminalise the Kurdish freedom struggle in the country as it is in Turkey.
On 30th April 2021 the court ruled a prison term of 4 years and 3 months for Veysel S, and a term of 3 years and 4 months for Agit K, both of whom were denied release. Özkan T, on the other hand, was released.
Özkan T, after nearly three years of imprisonment, told Yeni Özgür Politika about the trial process and his experience inside prison.
Recalling that their arrest was based on false statements of a “confessor”, Özkan said, ”They prepared a comprehensive operation and targeted the Kurdish freedom movement through us. The aim was to criminalise the Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK in the eyes of the European public, and accordingly they made up accusations referring to a ‘terrorist organisation’.”
Indicating that their arrest was like ”a show trial of the German government”, Özkan said many special teams took part in the operation.
“What they tried to say was, ‘These are very dangerous people. Look what we are dealing with.’ But they were not able to get the results they aimed for” he added.
Explaining how he was brought to the court room in a convoy of police cars, accompanied by special teams with automatic weapons, his hands cuffed behind his back, his ankles in leg irons, he said there were extreme security measures in the court room and on the premises too.
He went on to explain that they were placed in cells under the court first, then taken to the court room where there was a glass wall between them and thier lawyers. So they were even not even able to communicate with their lawyers satisfactorily.
He said he was punched by some of the guards in the cell after the court session before he was tranfered back to prison. He was then physically dragged to the vehicle by the guards.
Saying that none of their demands were accepted by the court during the court hearings and almost all objections made by their lawyers were rejected, he said that there was a trial of ISIS members in Munich at the same time and that the ISIS members were not been treated in the same way.
“ISIS is a brutal organisation that is a threat the world. They killed thousands of civilians. Yet they were tried in Germany in fairly good conditions and were not considered such a danger” he said.
Pointing out that the verdict against them seemed to have been decided before the trial had even began, Özkan T. also said that they refused to be kept in glass cages during the first hearing and he that he did not declare his identity to the court.
“We fought hard in the first hearing. In the next one, we came out of those glass cages.” he said.
Explaining that the judges initially tried to base the trial simply on the ‘confessor’s’ statements, Özkan T but that they later realised the inconsistencies in those statements, and were unable to proceed with their original plans. “The confessor was trying to direct the trial with his false statments” he said.
“They were bringing the confessor in a helicopter to Stammheim, trying to create the impression that he had some very sensitive information and could be a target. But the judges eventually lost their confidence in him as a result of the false statements he made. So the confessor, then began being brought to the court by car with just a couple of police officers accompanying him.”
Özkan T. said that the judges had to routinely intervene in the contradictory statements made by the confessor, warning him that his statements were inconsistent.
But by this time the confessor, get frustrated, started explaining about his agreement with the German police and blaming the police for violating the agreement with him. “You were supposed to give me a passport, an ID and a regular salary; I made an agreement with you in return for this” he began saying.
The hearing was immediately suspended after this for some considerable time.
Özkan T. said that the confessor “messed things up even more, when faced with a series of questions from the defence lawyers, in the 22nd hearing.” After that, he remained silent.
He never appeared in the courtroom again.