Gezi Trial: Osman Kavala remains behind bars

In Gezi trial, Osman Kavala, behind bars for 1,539 days, did not attend the hearing in protest against the lack of fair trial. The court board ruled for the continuation of his arrest by a majority of votes. The next hearing will be held on February 2nd.

The trial of 52 people, including businessperson and rights defender Osman Kavala, who has been arrested for 1,539 days, people such as Mücella Yapıcı, Ali Hakan Altınay, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Yiğit Aksakoğlu and Yiğit Ali Ekmekci, and the defendants of the çArşı case, which was merged with the Gezi trial, continued at the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court today (January 17).

After President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called him "the leftover of Soros", Osman Kavala said that these remarks left "no possibility for a fair trial" and his "participation in the hearings and presenting a defense would be meaningless."

Accordingly, Osman Kavala did not attend the hearing today, while defendants Tayfun Kahraman, Mücella Yapıcı, Can Atalay, Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi made their statements.

Handing down its interim ruling, the court board, by a majority of votes, has ruled that Osman Kavala shall remain behind bars.

The hearing today was also followed by Osman Kavala's spouse Prof. Ayşe Buğra, main opposition CHP MPs Özgür Özel, Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Ali Şeker and CHP İstanbul Organization Chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu as well as representatives from the consulates of Sweden, France, Italy, Belgium, the European Union (EU), the US, Norway and the Netherlands.

Atalay talked about Gezi

After the Taksim Solidarity made a statement in front of the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan ahead of the hearing, the hearing started.

Having said at the hearing on November 26, 2021, "We would like to tell you about Gezi at length, we would like to defend Gezi. We would like to present our defense at the next hearing if you accept," lawyer Can Atalay took the floor at the hearing and talked at length about the Gezi resistance in 2013. As reported by "Defending Gezi" Twitter account, Can Atalay briefly stated the following in his statement before the judge:

"This is not a defense statement. We said that we would tell you about Gezi. Now is the time.

"This trial is the product of a mob. This case shows that you do not understand what the Gezi resistance is about. Your indictment is the historical thesis of the ruling political party; thus, it is not a legal text, but a political statement.

"With no grounds or evidence, this eclectic historical thesis desperately describes our Gezi resistance as an international plot, so it is condemned to failure. Not the prosecutor's office but the powers it represents, ask that we surrender. We shall never surrender.

"No one dares to accuse the millions of people who exercised their constitutional rights on the streets during Gezi of using funds. No participant of Gezi can be linked to a single penny, yet the job training of the prosecutor who wrote this indictment is funded by the EU.

"We are not anyone's subjects. We will not become citizens who wait for words spoken by any individual to act.

"Against the purse-snatching crony capitalism of the Justice and Development Party, citizens protected their rights, objected, and stood shoulder-to-shoulder as they defended Gezi Park in Taksim.

"They sought to close off Taksim Square, the most important location of the struggles for rights. So the question the prosecutor must ask is this: 'To whom was Taksim Square promised, to whom was it offered that so much aggression had to be applied against citizens?'

"This indictment also seeks to criminalize the Istanbul Urban Rally in December 2013, but does not mention Elif Çermik, who was murdered by excessive pepper gas use in Kadıköy on that day. [...] The indictment also mentions September 10, 2013, but it does not mention Ahmet Atakan.

"The indictment wants to remove Ali İsmail Korkmaz from our dreams, who was beaten to death in a side street of Eskişehir, and seeks to pass as a complainant his murderer, Mevlüt Saldoğan. [...] The indictment is full of sections about Berkin Elvan's funeral, but it does not mention the systematic protection given to those responsible of a child's murder. And you cannot talk about the Gezi resistance without naming Ethem Sarısülük.

"The indictment wants us to forget two of our brothers who passed away in two corners of Turkey on June 3, Mehmet Ayvalıtaş and Abdullah Cömert.

"The indictment mentions the press statement on June 28, but does not state how, after many years, hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets to bid farewell to our loss on the other side of the Euphrates, for Medeni Yıldırım.

"We are not in detention, but there is a defendant in detention in this case. And patience no longer serves us well.

"Gezi is the hope for equality, freedom and justice. We will win. We will continue our struggle together. And we will win together."

Kahraman: It is made up of millions of people

In his statement at court, defendant Tayfun Kahraman also talked about the Gezi resistance, briefly stating the following:

"We will continue to object to any project that will destroy İstanbul or seek to take Taksim Square from the people.

"It was society's conscience that took to the streets during Gezi. I have never in my life witnessed aggression on the scale that targeted the people during Gezi.

"No amount of power, money or authority can organize people to take to the streets in 80 provinces. The Gezi resistance is made up of millions of people."

Yapıcı: It was people's conscience standing up

In her statement before the court, defendant Mücella Yapıcı briefly stated the following about Gezi and the judicial process:

"In a country where there is so much poverty, murders, unsolved murders, how can you put us on trial for practicing our profession, and ask for capital punishment?

"In the middle of the night they came and began to demolish the park. The people stood against it. So we, too, went there with the presidents of associations. We were subjected to extraordinary amounts of pepper gas. I have suffered from COPD since then.

"It was the people's conscience that stood up at Gezi. No political movement or political figure can bring so many different-minded people in 80 different provinces of Turkey to create such incredible empathy and sisterhood.

"So now they hold OsmanKavala as hostage. They try to criminalize Gezi. Judges, my words are not for you. I feel sad for you. After all, judges who rule for acquittal are not seen again.

"Gezi is honor. They may try to create a different, criminal Gezi, but #Gezi has already taken its place in history."

In his statement, Hakan Altınay also briefly said:

"I do not understand what I am accused of. The accusations are based on absolutely no evidence or concrete fact. It gives me sorrow that such indictments can be written in my country. [...] I have worked for the good of my country. I have never had any intention of carrying out a coup. So, I thought, how do I explain an intention I never had?"

Following the statement, the hearing was recessed for an hour.

Özerden: What did you find wrong about acquittal?

After the recess, the hearing continued with the statements of defendants Mine Özerden and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi as well as the defendants' lawyersMine Özerden briefly said:

"I can't understand why I am here. My lawyer asked the prosecutor to provide us with the accusations I face, but this request was rejected. So am I supposed to think up a suitable crime for myself?

"What was it about the acquittal ruled by the 30th Heavy Penal Court that you found wrong? Tell us so we can defend ourselves and present evidence accordingly.

"Although none of the accusations against him have been proven, Osman Kavala remains in detention. Why? Are we not supposed to ask?"

Presenting his statement at court, Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi briefly said: "It appears that the prosecutor is not bothered about providing evidence for his claims. This leaves us with the impossible task of proving that something which has not happened did not happen."

No release, again

After Ekmekçi's statement, the lawyers of Osman Kavala and the çArşı case took the floor and made their statements.

Edip Şahiner, the prosecutor of the hearing, pronounced his opinion as to the accusations afterwards and demanded that the requests of Mine Özerden and Hakan Altınay for lifting their control measures and the defendants' requests for being exempted from the hearings be accepted. Şahiner also demanded that Osman Kavala's imprisonment continue.

Handing down its interim ruling, the court board, by a majority of votes, has ruled for the continuation of Kavala's arrest.

The court board has accepted the request to exempt the defendants who made such a request from attending hearings while it has ruled that the international travel bans shall remain in effect. The next hearing of the case will be held on February 21, 2022.

Source: Bianet