Selahattin Uzun, member of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), was recently sentenced to prison twice in the scope of two trials related to one and the same press release.
Uzun had read out a press release of the pro-Kurdish BDP issued on the anniversary of Abdullah Öcalan's exit from Syria. Öcalan is the imprisoned leader of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The press release was issued in the Viranşehir district of Urfa on 10 October 2010.
As the result of the two trials related to the press release, the 4th and 6th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır sentenced Uzun to imprisonment of seven years and eleven months in total on charges of "committing a crime on behalf of an organization without being a member of that organization" and "making propaganda for an illegal organization" respectively.
Both courts charged Uzun with "propaganda". The politician's lawyer, Mahmut Vefa, filed an appeal against both decisions.
Vefa told bianet that different prosecutors had prepared separate proceedings regarding the very same action. He emphasized that a person could not be prosecuted for the same offence twice.
Lawyer Hürrem Sönmez reviewed the decision for bianet. In her opinion, the ruling is contrary to the law since both trials were opened on the basis of the same speech. In both cases, Uzun was sentenced under Article 223/7 of the Criminal Procedure Law (CMK).
Sönmez referred to Article 223 that stipulates "The cases, where there is [...] a pending case against the same accused because of the same conduct, the case will be declared inadmissible". The lawyer underlined that a perpetrator that committed several crimes is to be prosecuted according to the most severe offence. In any case, there should not be separate trials for each offence, Sönmez explained.
"Prosecuting and convicting a defendant twice for the same offence is a breach of the principle of a fair trial as guaranteed by the constitution and international agreements", Sönmez summarized and pointed to Article 4 of Additional Protocol No. 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court sentenced Uzun to imprisonment of six years and three months. In the reasoned decision the court board announced, "it was settled that the actions were done on behalf of the organization in accordance with the organization's information and request".
The Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court declared that the press release could not be considered within the scope of freedom of thought. The Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reported that the 6th High Criminal Court ruled for prison terms of one year and eight months. The court board pointed to the European Convention on Human Rights in the reasoned decision. (ÖÖ/ŞA/VK)