Hearing of Öcalan’s lawyers postponed to December

Lawyers of Öcalan expressed that the case was unlawful and this legal action against them was taken to eliminate every single person that was involved in the “resolution process” seeking to resolve the Kurdish question through dialogue.

The first hearing in the trial of the lawyers of Asrın Law Office, Rezan Sarca, Ali Maden, Suat Eren, Cengiz Yürekli, nan Akmeşe, Mahmut Taşçı, and Mehmet Selim Okçuolu, who defended PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan in 2012, was held in Istanbul on Tuesday.

The lawyers standing trial, as well as their lawyers, were present in the courtroom as the hearing began with identification. Apart from Öcalan's lawyers, Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) co-chair İlknur Alcan and several other people attended the hearing at the 33rd High Criminal Court in Istanbul.

"We are being tried here with the ugly legacy of a conspiratorial mind," Cengiz Yürekli said, noting that the accusation was based on Imrali talks. Yürekli stated that he was Abdullah Öcalan's defence counsel but had never been to Imrali until today, and continued, "Even if I had met him, it would have happened within the scope of lawyer-client talks. The essential point here is why I am denied a meeting. This is an obvious breach of rights. After all, a prisoner is barred from meeting with his counsel for a period of nine years. So, the honourable prosecutor is unaware of this? A few items have been added to enhance the fiction on which the file is formed so that it is not seen as in vain.”

Yürekli continued, emphasizing that the phrase "Imrali is Turkey's Guantanamo" was listed as a crime in the indictment: "This is neither political propaganda nor a discourse of any kind. Both the establishment stages and the ideology on which they are founded, as well as the administrative regime used, are comparable. We have three additional clients in İmralı. In March 2015, they were relocated to İmralı. They had been permitted to exercise all of their rights in the previous prison but they have been unable to meet with a lawyer for the past six and a half years. Öcalan has not been heard from since March 25. We have no idea what the living circumstances there are like."

Yürekli remarked that the tape records in the file were obtained illegally and that the conversations occurred within the boundaries of lawyer-client talks and did not constitute a crime.

Nearly 2,000 applications have been rejected so far

Speaking after, Rezan Sarıca stated that "4 inmates were transferred to the island in 2009, but the same conditions were imposed on them," recalling that İmralı Island was created expressly for Abdullah Öcalan in 1999 and that Öcalan was detained in solitary confinement for 10 years: “For the past eight years, no lawyer has been allowed to visit Imralı. Almost 2,000 applications we filed have been rejected thus far. Since 2014, only six family visits have taken place. In 22 years, two phone calls were made, the last of which was cut off. These are extraordinary circumstances.”

Sarıca recalled the ECtHR's finding that the aggravated life imprisonment was harsh, stating that the issues mentioned in the indictment as the topic of accusation were expressed in the CPT reports. Sarıca noted that the powers a lawyer has before a court or the public are written in international law: "Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor and Execution Judge decide that this execution regime should continue while they also have responsibilities. We are lawyers who are unable to get and analyze court records. All legislative rules are violated, so we cannot function as lawyers for Mr. Öcalan. The approach to Mr. Öcalan determines the whole law."

Following the statements, the court board announced an interim judgment, postponing the hearing to December 16, demanding that the secret witnesses be heard at the next hearing and that the minutes of the MIT (intelligence services) file be obtained.

The other lawyers on trial also expressed that the case was unlawful and this legal action against them was taken to eliminate every single person that was involved in the “resolution process” seeking to resolve the Kurdish question through dialogue.

Regarding the case

PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's lawyers Rezan Sarıca, Ali Maden, Baran Doğan, Cengiz Yürekli, İnan Akmeşe, Mahmut Taşçı, and Mehmet Selim Okçuoğlu were charged with "membership in a terrorist organization" as part of an investigation conducted by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in 2012 by prosecutors who were members of the Gülen community and a lawsuit was filed. The Istanbul 33rd High Criminal Court accepted the indictment, which was prepared after the lawyers' statements were taken.

The meeting of the lawyers, who were charged with "membership in a terrorist organization," with Abdullah Öcalan in the İmralı F Type High-Security Prison, as well as phone talks they had with the detainees' families, were also made the focus of accusations in the indictment. The statements made by the lawyers to the press, as well as the declarations they made, are identified as criminal elements in the indictment.