Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Defense Lawyers Threaten to Boycott KCK Trial

DHA Photo from Radikal

Defense lawyers announced Monday that they will boycott the KCK trial currently ongoing in Diyarbakir unless the court allows defendants to use Kurdish when defending themselves in the courtroom. For background, click here. From Hurriyet Daily News:
Defense lawyers withdrew themselves at a Tuesday hearing from the Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, trial and gathered to discuss whether the action should be permanent or not.

The trial has been grid-locked many times over the suspects’ demand to give their defense in Kurdish despite the court’s consistent refusal.

The 21st hearing of the case started with suspect Songül Erol Abdil, the former mayor of Tunceli province, offering his defense in Zaza, which the court refused to hear, stating the statement was in “a language believed to be Kurdish.”

Abdil corrected the court, saying that the language was Zaza and offered the defense in writing. The court refused it once more, saying, “The suspect knows Turkish.” Defense lawyers said the action was illegal and that written statements must be translated and put into the case file.

After the same thing occurred with another suspect, the defense demanded that the statements be included in the case file in both Kurdish and Turkish, that the court make a decision of lack of jurisdiction and transfer the trial to the Constitutional Court and that all the arrested suspects be present at hearings.

The court tried to end the hearing after a recess without addressing the demands, leading about 100 defense lawyers to withdraw from the case, stating they cannot do their jobs.

UPDATE I (4/27) --The Diyarbakir hearing the KCK case has ruled that the Diyarbakir Bar Association will be asked to provide new representation to clients should the lawyers who have announced to boycott the trial not attend the next hearing. The Bar Association has said it will not do this. Hurriyet Daily News quotes Emin Aktar, a lawyer in the KCK case and current chairman of the Bar Association:
“The trial is already in a gridlock; six months have passed and not one defense has gone on record.” 
"It is meaningless for us to be there,” he added.
“The court will not even add defense in Kurdish to the [case] file, let alone allow it to be read,” he said, adding that according to the law, the defenses should be translated into Turkish and added to the case files.

“There are lots of wire-tapped conversations in Kurdish used as evidence against the suspects,” Aktar said. “You [the court] translated then and [added them to the file]. Then take those out too.”

The defense lawyers have also objected to the suspects being brought to trial in groups of six, rather than altogether, even though the courtroom is large enough to handle all of them and none of the suspects caused any disturbance or insulted the court when they were brought before it, Aktar said.

“It is against the universal concept of law. The indictment accuses them of being in an organization together, of being connected to each other somehow, so they should be tried together, but you will bring some of them to the hearings and not others,” he said. “You will start to read the evidence and those not present will not be able to answer the [claims] about them. And this would be called a trial.”

Moreover, Aktar said, the defense lawyers are unaware of which suspects will be brought to court beforehand and thus cannot prepare a defense. He called for the Justice Ministry to intervene to solve the problem or for the court to “give up on its stubbornness.”
It is highly unlikely that the Justice Ministry will intervene in the trial as doing so would constitute a major concession from the government and be perceived as a political victory for the BDP.

No comments: