The Devrimci Yol (Revolutionary Way)
Case, continuing for 20 years,
at the Ankara Assize Court
had been resolved in the 16th July 2002.
According to the verdict, 22 of 23 people who were accused of Article 146 / 1 of the Turkish Criminal Code, sentenced with the death penalty, But after this verdict as of "age" and "good attitude" this sentence changed into perpetual imprisonment for 20 people, and for the other 2, imprisonment for 16 years and 8 months.
Article 146/1 of the Turkish Criminal Code provides: "Whosoever shall attempt to alter or amend in whole or in a part the Constitution of the Turkish Republic or to effect a coup d'etat against the Grand National Assembly formed under the Constitution or to prevent it by force from carrying out its functions shall be liable to the death penalty."
The Dev-Yol case was a mass case, starting with 574 defendants. With the joinder of causes of action, the defendants' number increased up to 723. In a judgment of July 17th 1989, Ankara Martial Law Court sentenced 7 defendants with death penalty, 39 defendants with perpetual imprisonment and 346 with imprisonment changing between 2 and 20 years.
In 1996, the Court of Cassation quashed the conviction on the ground that they should be sentenced with the death penalty. After, the Dev-Yol case was seized again in the Ankara Assize Court for the 23 defendants again.
This symbolic sentence of death penalties just before the abolition of the death penalty by the Turkish Grand Assembly is illogical and unjust only because of the length of the criminal proceedings. It is against the European Convention of HR Article 6/1. Most of the defendants of Dev-Yol case applied the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) under article 6/1 and most of them after the court's decision had the right of indemnity.
The local court's verdict rejecting the international law norms and ECHR's decision, in a time the abolition of the death penalty is discussed, has a meaning of challenge.
With the change in the Constitution about the death penalty's abolition, it's not known how this punishment will be implemented. Unless a new decision is seized, 15 of the defendants will be imprisoned between 3 months to 3 years again.
We don't know how the new situation in the constitution will affect our case. The procedure is considered as: Ankara Assize Court will transmit the decision dated July 16th, 2002 to the Court of Cassation, the Court of Cassation will transmit the case to the Assize Court to be seized again under the light of the new situation, then Ankara Assize Court, to renew the decision, will wait for the new regulations to be implied.
The defendants will be judged again with the new regulations and the court will transmit the case for the last decision to the Court of Cassation. We will be facing with the fact that this procedure will take a long time and we will be under the pressure of death penalty and imprisonment. Our demand is that the court of Cassation and Ankara Assize Court will give the verdict as discontinuance of action.
The defendants made a press release on the July 18th, 2002 and demanded the cancellation with consideration of the change in concept of crime and punishment during the last 20 years. They assumed that they will follow up the injustice that will occur to themselves and to their families because of a case that has started 20 years ago. This case should be held as an example of how the recent abolition of the death penalty will be implemented.
Cahit Akcam, Bunyamin Inan, Atalay Dede, Halil Yasin Ketenoglu, Melih Bekdemir, Akin Dirik, Murat Parlakay, Yalcin Turhan Burkev, Erdogan Genc, Nuri Ozdemir, Osman Nuri Ramazanoglu, Hidir Adiyaman, Nurettin Aytun, Emin Kocer, Hasan Erturk, Yasar Kanbur, Celal Mut, Hilmi Izmirli, Mehmet Hassoy, Yusuf Yildirim, Veli Yildirim, Huseyin Aslan made a press release.
Following is the text of the press release
July 18th, 2002
The Dev-Yol case which has been going on for 20 years and which must be considered as a scandal of justice for the mere reason of its length, is completed on July 16th, 2002 in Ankara Assize Court. With this decision, 22 of 23 of the defendants are sentenced with death penalty under the Article 146/1 of the Turkish Criminal Code, and afterwards this decision is changed into perpetual imprisonment for 20 defendants and for 2 of the defendants 16 years and 8 months imprisonment. This unjust, unreasonable decision is unacceptable.
Because: This case is invalid historically, socially and juristically.
1. The Dev-Yol Case is an outcome of the prior to 1980 phase's sociological and politic situation and this situation occurred during the past time conjuncture which is distant for the society and us. There has been a great change in all aspects but neither our case was terminated nor the Article is changed.
2. Our case is important because it shows very clearly how relative the crime and punishment are. Because the constitution, we were accused of attempting to "alter, modify and abolish", had been changed by the 1980 coup d'etat by force. We don't take into consideration the ones who have supposed "nothing would happen if the constitution is abolished just once",and attempts to penetrate the constitution. That is to say, the action of this forces didn't occur as attempts, the changes had been implemented. But this forces were never accused of Article 146 nor they never faced with the court. As to sum up, the 1961 constitution we were accused of attempting to modify was totally abolished by the others, and the latter 1982 constitution had been abolished at least twice, but our "crime of attempting to alter the constitution" remained in all terms. As a result, this decision is not only juristically, but socially and politically prescriptive and invalid as well.
3. The quality of the crime didn't change subsequent to the changes in the situation nor the punishment was affected by the conversion. Lastly, the death penalty is abolished but the court didn't hesitate to give the verdict as death penalty.
4. It should be because of their embarrassment that the court assembly didn't interpret the decision to us, and two of the three members of the court assembly weren't present on the decision day. The decision was interpreted to the defendants without their being seated and was summarized in two sentences in front of the court door.
At the end of this historical period, we were prosecuted firstly at the military court, then at the civic supreme court; the civic Court of Cassation underrated the 7 death penalties verdict of the military court, then the case was transmitted to the Ankara Assize Court with 23 death penalty requests. Many prosecutors and judges changed during that 7 years period in the Ankara Assize Court, and lately on June 27th, 2002, a new judge joined the court and signed the 22 death penalties.
As it is recognized, Article 146 is an ATTEMPT crime and the decision holds an eminence of subjectivity called "appreciation of the judge". In a case like this, which there are plenty of files, it is a great question mark for us and for JUSTICE as well, that how the judges can use their APPRECIATION without analysis of all the files. We anticipate that they are uncomfortable with this fact, so that 22 death penalties were interpreted to us without our entering the court. They answered our questions hiding under their officer identities, saying "that is what the Court of Cassation requires."
5. Most of us applied the European Court of Human Rights and at the end of our cases versus Turkish Republic, under Article 6 of Convention which states "reasonableness of the length of proceedings", found right and the state had to pay us indemnity because of its violation of human rights.
Our being forced to live under discontentment of death penalty is against justice objectively. Under the recent conditions the court's decision of the death penalty won't take us to death but it is going to cause serious damage in our lives. If the Court of Cassation will approve the decision, it will pave the way to our imprisonment between 6 months and 3 years. This situation will not only damage our lives, but our families, children's future as well. This situation will damage the crime and punishment's individuality policy and will take us aside from the society.
As a result of this situation, we demand the complete cancellation Dev-Yol Case and lifting of the DEATH PENALTIES when there is possibility and time. We declare that, we won't hesitate to use our legal, juristic, democratic and political struggle rights.
Because this decision is not only unjust affecting 22 people's life, but a proceed of the totalitarian, anti-democratic, dark mentality against human rights. And we the defendants condemned to death, whose names are listed below, will stably struggle against this mentality. (NM)