Ankara Third Criminal Court ruled to release Bünyamin Adanalı and Ünal Osmanağaoğlu and to stay the execution of their penalties on Tuesday in compliance with the Third Judicial Package ratified by Parliament and President Abdullah Gül last week. Ünal and Adanalı were among the seven perpetrators of the "Bahçelievler massacre" of 1978 that saw the killing of seven members of the Turkey Workers' Party (TİP.)
Plaintiff lawyers Nezahat Gündoğmuş and Erşen Sansal also attended Tuesday's hearing that commenced upon a request by defendant lawyers Yalçın Kasaroğlu and Mustafa Ekinci for their clients' release.
Defendant lawyer Erşen Sansal told bianet that he did not regard the decision as odd, as he had personally witnessed the 34 year long trial process.
Adanalı and Osmanağaoğlu were among the seven perpetrators of the massacre in Ankara's Bahçelievler district on Oct. 9, 1978 that saw the killing of college students and TİP members Latif Can, Efraim Ezgin, Hürcan Gürses, Osman Nuri Uzunlar, Serdar Alten, Faruk Ersan and Salih Gevence.
The court subsequently rejected a request by plaintiff lawyers Gündoğmuş and Sansal to take the decision to the Constitutional Court to annul the amendment in the Third Judicial Package that led to the release of the two convicts who had each been sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment seven times.
"The government's idea of judicial reform"
Lawyer Sansal told bianet that this was exactly the result the government had been aiming for when it pushed for the legislation. This was the "reform" in the heads of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP,) he said.
"The [plaintiff] lawyers said the [legislation] had been passed to allow for their clients' release. They are able to take pride in this because the power [in question] belongs to them," he said.
Lawyer Sansal also noted that Haluk Kırcı is currently the only perpetrator of the massacre still serving time behind bars. "Kırcı, however, is not in prison solely for the Bahçelievler massacre but simultaneously for the Susurluk [case] as well," he explained.
What of Tahir Canan?
On the other hand, no progress has come about in the case of Tahir Canan, who was first sentenced to 36 years in prison in 1979 on the charge of committing a politically motivated murder. Authorities conditionally released Canan in 1991 but again sentenced him to 12.5 years in 1993 on the charge of "being a member of a terrorist organization." Despite a court decision to anull his 12.5 year sentence and all other relevant consequences, Canan still served for a total of 31 years in prison.
Canan's lawyer Yıldız Koluaçık said that it was unacceptable for her client to have spent 31 years behind bars while officials released the perpetrators of the Bahçelievler massacre who were proven to be guilty as charged.
Lawyer Koluaçık further noted the release of Caner Erdinç, one of the suspects in the main Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) trial who was in a similar situation as Tahir Canan. Erdinç was released on May 30 while the Third Judicial Package was still pending in a commission before it landed in Parliament.
Erdinç was also released conditionally in 1991 after receiving a sentence of 36 years of imprisonment while the Sept. 12, 1980 coup administration was still intact. His conditonal release was also revoked as in the case of Canan after he was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for a crime he had committed in 2005.
Authorities later released Erdinç on May 30, 2012, some five years earlier than his scheduled discharge from prison, on the basis of judicial reforms that were underway in a Parliamentary commission.
"The AKP shows who they want to dance with"
Tahir Canan's file is still pending at the Supreme Court of Appeals, Koluaçık said, adding they had already applied for his release, but that nothing had come out yet.
"The release of the murderers of the seven TİP [members] has offended [people's] sense of justice, I believe. I am of the opinion that legislation intended merely to release and reward [people of such political convictions] without turning it into an all-encompassing decision with respect to the trials of the Sept. 12 [coup] hurts the public's conscience," Koluaçık said.
"The legislation pertaining to the Sept. 12 [coup] trials serve only to reward the greywolves (the youth branch of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP.)) The government of the AKP has thus demonstrated who they really want to dance with," she added. (EKN)