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Three academics, who have been charged with "propagandizing for a terrorist organization" for having signed the declaration "We will not be a party to this crime" prepared by the Academics for Peace, stood trial today (April 4) at 32nd and 14th Heavy Penal Courts.
Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veli Polat from İstanbul University have been sentenced to 1 year 3 months in prison.
The penalty of Prof. Dr. Üstel has not been deferred on the grounds that she has not demanded deferment of the announcement of the verdict and that she has not made "a statement of penitence." An appeal regarding the verdict can be made to the Court of Appeal. As for the prison sentence given to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Polat, his penalty has been deferred.
Prof. Dr. Nüket Esen from Boğaziçi University had her first hearing today at 14th Heavy Penal Court. Presenting her statement of defence, Esen rejected the allegations. The court ruled that the next hearing of Esen shall be adjourned to June 28.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Veli Polat from İstanbul University, Prof. Dr. Zübeyde Füsun Üstel from Galatasaray University and Assistant Professor Yasemin Gülsüm Acar from Özyeğin University had their third hearings today at 32nd Heavy Penal Court.
The hearing of Acar has been postponed to April 12 due to the excuse of her attorney.
180 academics are on trial
Among the ones watching the hearings were representatives from the United Kingdom Article 19 Group.
The hearings against signatory academics started on December 5, 2017. As of April 4, 180 people had their first hearings, 30 of them had their second hearings and one academic had the third. Five academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison, and the sentences were suspended.
On January 10, 2016, 1,128 academics published a declaration entitled "We will not be party to this crime" on behalf of the Academics for Peace initiative.
On March 10, 2016, Asst. Prof. Dr. Esra Mungan, Asst. Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Kaya, Assoc. Prof. Dr Kıvanç Ersoy and Asst. Prof. Dr. Meral Camcı read out the press statement at a press conference that was was held on behalf of the Academics for Peace/Istanbul group regarding the developments which had occurred since the declaration was first shared with the public.
The first three of these academics were arrested on the charge of "terrorist propaganda" on March 15, 2016, and the last, Camcı, who was abroad at the time, was arrested on March 31 when she returned to Turkey. The four academics were released on April 22, 2016 upon their first hearing, in which the prosecutor of the trial changed the charges pressed against the academics to the crimes regulated under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (insulting Turkey, the Turkish nation, or Turkish government institutions) and applied for authorization from the Ministry of Justice to hold the trial under the new article.
Another bill of indictment was prepared in October 2017 regarding at least 148 academics who signed the declaration. The academics were charged with "terrorist organization propaganda" under Article 7/2 of the Turkish Anti-Terror Act (#3713) in the bill of indictment prepared by Prosecutor İsmet Bozkurt. The first hearings were held on December 5, 2017.
As of April 4, 180 people had their first hearings, 30 of them had their second hearings and one academic had the third. Five academics were sentenced to 1 year and 3 months in prison, and the sentences were suspended. (TP/SD)
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