Belge publishing house owner, Turkish Publishers' Association (TYB) Publishing Freedom Committee chair, Özgür Gündem and daily Evrensel columnist Ragıp Zarakolu is under arrest at Kandıra Prison since 31 October 2011.
On April 5, his lawyer Sennur Baybuğa filed a petition to the Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court arguing that his arrest is unfounded and asked for his release.
The court is expected to examine the petition today and set a date for the upcoming sitting at the KCK case, where Zarakolu is on trial. Formerly, the court announced that case would begin on July but refrained from setting an exact date.
Sabah daily columnist Nazlı Ilıcak had said that the decision is up to the court "but the best would be to try as many people as possible without arrest."
Radikal daily columnist Oral Çalışlar noted that even commentators close to the government criticize the arrest of people like Zarakolu or academic Büşra Ersanlı.
Milliyet columnist Hasan Cemal also questioned the rationale of the KCK indictment, where Zarakolu is charged with up to 15 years in prison and Ersanlı with up to 22 years, asking "how would it be possible to establish peace and stability in Turkey with such indictments".
On the other hand, PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had backed the court in a statement he made on November 4th, 2011. "Is the KCK connected to Imralı [the prison where rebel PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is held], or not? It's sad to oppose the process without considering this. They say, is it a crime to give lessons? There's a name of a terrorist on the door of that classroom [the Peace and Democracy Party's academy, where Zarakolu and Ersanlı gave classes]. They talk about revolution. Revolution is made with arms."
The court accepted the 2401 page-long indictment on April 3rd. There're 193 defendants at the case, of whom 147 are under arrest. 51 of them are accused of "being administrators of a terrorist organization" and 142 are accused of "being members" of "supporting a terrorist organization."
Marmara University staff Prof. Büşra Ersanlı is accused of the former while Zarakolu with the latter.
Translator Ayşe Berktay is also accused of "being a member of and supporting a terrorist organization."
Among the evidence put forward by the prosecutor's office about Zarakolu are opening ceremonies of party academies he attended with BDP's co-chair Gültan Kışanak.
Public prosecutor's office claims that the classes given by Zarakolu can't be deemed as "solely educational activities", noting that there're pictures of PKK members' and Öcalan hanging on the walls of the academy.
"Given that the, secret witnesses' and defendants' testimonies reveal that the classes in question were formulated as to provide ideological education of the organization, that the curriculum is not different from those applied at the organization's camps in Northern Iraq, that weekly notes of Öcalan and [PKK executive] Murat Karayılan were read at classes; it's unthinkable that someone as Zarakolu wouldn't be aware of the unlawful activities in question. " (EÖ/EÜ)