Trial against TTB President Şebnem Korur Fincancı adjourned

The imprisoned President of the Medical Association Şebnem Korur Fincancı reiterated her demand for an independent investigation into Turkey's chemical weapons use in Kurdistan on the second day of the trial in Istanbul.

The trial of Şebnem Korur Fincancı has continued in Istanbul. The president of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has been in pre-trial detention since the end of October because she spoke out in a television interview with the Kurdish channel Medya Haber in favour of an independent investigation into the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army in Kurdistan. In the interview, the respected forensic pathologist and anti-torture expert stated that she had watched footage of victims of a suspected chemical weapons attack. According to Fincancı, their symptoms apparently indicated that the persons - two guerrilla fighters - had been exposed to a toxic gaseous substance. The allegations that they might have been exposed to poison gas should therefore be examined according to international standards. The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office therefore accuses Fincancı of "propaganda for a terrorist organisation" and demands a prison sentence of up to seven and a half years.

As at the start of the trial last Friday, the Çağlayan Palace of Justice was besieged by the police. The trial before the 24th Heavy Penal Court was observed by HDP and CHP MPs, doctors, the Union of Bar Associations of Turkey (TBB) and local as well as international human rights organisations.

Fincancı again denied the accusation against her at the trial. She said that her statement did not constitute a criminal offence and was rather her duty as a citizen and a medical doctor. For this reason, she did not want to defend herself, but only to comment on the facts of the case. The indictment, she said, was unscientific and quite obviously done on political orders. "Moreover, it is being pretended that I am the most dangerous defendant in the country or even in the world," Fincancı said, reiterating her demand for an independent investigation of the allegations by chemical weapons experts in the war zone.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan personally attacked her as a "member of a terrorist organisation", Fincancı continued: "If I am supposed to be a terrorist, I would like to know from which organisation. Is it from the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey? Or from some other association? If the president says something like that, how can the judiciary deviate from it?"

Fincancı remarked that the ultimate goal of the smear campaign and their arrest was also to ban the TTB, pointing to the proceedings initiated against the entire board of the medical association for "membership in a terrorist organisation". However, she said, the TTB is one of the most trusted institutions in Turkey. "They want to get rid of me and the TTB, but they will not succeed. I don't know if they want to reintroduce the death penalty, but we are not afraid. They know that, but they want to intimidate society. Wherever we are, we will continue our struggle," said the internationally renowned forensic scientist and human rights activist.

The trial was adjourned until 11 January 2023.