Turkey’s top appeals court upholds prison sentence of prominent lawyer

Lawyer Selçuk Kozağaçlı

Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld a prison sentence handed down to the head of a now-closed lawyers’ association who has been behind bars for more than seven years on terrorism-related charges, Turkish Minute reported.

In November 2022 head of the now-closed Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) Selçuk Kozağaçlı, also a prominent human rights activist and lawyer, was among 19 lawyers given 146 years in prison in total on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” and “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” by the İstanbul 18th High Criminal Court.

The court convicted the lawyers of membership in the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army/Front (DHKP/C) and spreading the propaganda of the DHKP/C, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.

The court sentenced jailed defendants Kozağaçlı and Barkın Timtik to 12 years in prison each and ruled to keep them in jail during appeal.

The lawyers say their prosecution is politically motivated.

The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals has concluded the appeals for Kozağaçlı and Timtik and upheld their sentences while sending the files of the other defendants to a regional appeals court for review. The top court, however, reduced Kozağaçlı’s sentence to 10 years, 15 days on a technicality.

Kozağaçlı, who was arrested in November 2017 on terrorism charges, angered the government by representing two academics who were fired from their jobs by government decrees, the victims of a mining disaster in Soma in western Turkey in 2014 and many other persecuted people.

In a speech at the Ankara Bar Association’s general assembly in October 2016, Kozağaçlı revealed that people imprisoned as part of a government crackdown on the Gülen movement were being systematically tortured in the most barbaric ways including rape, removal of fingernails and the insertion of objects into their anuses.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016, although the movement strongly denies the coup charges.

According to a statement by the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, 450 lawyers in Turkey have been sentenced to 2,786 years in total on trumped-up charges of terrorism since the coup attempt.

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