The Turkish Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal from three people who were convicted of “attempting to overthrow the government” during the Gezi Park protests of 2013, Turkish media reported.
Tayfun Kahraman, Mücella Yapıcı and Can Atalay appealed to the top court, saying their sentences were unlawful and that their freedom of expression and right to demonstrate had been violated.
The court deliberated their appeal on August 18 and ruled that it had no basis in law. Speaking to the T24 news website, lawyer Evren İşler said one of the two judges who signed the ruling was İrfan Fidan, who was the Istanbul chief public prosecutor during the Gezi protest investigations.
“Two judges signed the ruling,” she said. “One of them was Fidan, which is hugely problematic. Neither of the judges are experts in human rights, and they have strong political links. It has always been clear that the Gezi Park trials were political, so how can they be impartial?”
Kahraman, Yapıcı and Atalay were sentenced on April 25 to 18 years in prison each. The ruling sparked international condemnation as well as protests across Turkey for being politically motivated.
The defendants filed an objection to their sentences at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court. However, the panel of judges unanimously turned down their objection to the decision of the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court on the grounds it found no flaws in the lower’s court’s ruling in legal or procedural terms.
The Gezi Park demonstrations, which took place in the summer of 2013 in reaction to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s attempt to destroy one of the few green spaces left in İstanbul, quickly turned into a nationwide protest against the authoritarian policies of then-prime minister and current president Erdoğan.
Eleven protestors died and thousands more were injured as they were brutally suppressed by the police on Erdoğan’s instructions.