The first hearing of the Oda TV trial was held before the Istanbul 16th High Criminal Court on Tuesday (22 November). The proceedings started with a motion to require Judge Resul Çakır to recuse himself. The motion had previously been submitted by journalist Soner Yalçın as one of the defendants.
The session started at 11.00 am and was attended by 13 defendants, eleven of whom are detained. Many journalists and also politicians who came to support the defendants were not allowed into the courtroom of the Çağlayan (Istanbul) Courthouse because apparently "there was not enough room".
Since the motion for the recusal of judge was submitted before the hearing, Court President Çakır announced to listen to the requests related to the recusal of judge only. Upon the objections of the defence lawyers, the judge accepted to listen to the requests for release as well.
Lawyers Fikret İlkiz and Akın Atalay, joint attorneys of journalist Ahmet Şık, and the other defence lawyers presented their requests for the release of their clients pending trial.
Thereupon, the court board gave an intermission until 1.00 pm.
bianet talked to lawyer Efkan Bolaç. She expected that the decision on the releases and the recusal of judge were going to be announced after the intermission.
1.15 pm, defendant Yalçın Küçük gave his statement at. He stressed, "This is not the trial of Şık and Şener, this is the trial of all of us". The judge announced another intermission after Küçük's statement.
The session was continued after 15 minutes. The court president announced that the request for the recusal of the judge was going to be evaluated by the 17th High Criminal Court. The trial was postponed to 26 December. The requests for the release of the defendants will be handled only after the decision on the recusal of judge will have been given.
Support outside the courtroom
A group of journalists and trial observers came together in front of the courthouse to support the indicted journalists and protest their prosecution. They claimed that the journalists were detained on the grounds of their journalistic activities.
The group gathered around a banner reading "A free society exists with a free press". They had also put down photographs of all journalists imprisoned in Turkey. The group was joined by members of the Freedom for Journalists Platform (GÖP), the Journalists Association of Turkey (TGC), the Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS), politician Alper Taş, journalist and writer Ece Temelkuran, journalist Celal Başlangıç and Osman Kavala.
Representatives of many foreign journalists organizations came to observe trial, among them Arne König, President of the European Federation of Journalists; Vice President Philippe Leruth; Ramis Kılıçarslan and Monika Kabay from the German Journalists Union; the Vice President of the International Press Institute, Pavol Mudry; press freedom advisor for Europe and North America Steven Ellis, Johann Bihr from Reporters without Borders; European Journalists Union Vice President Saia Tsaouasidou and European Parliament members Sajjad Karim and Barbara Matera. (EKN/AS/NV/VK)