Turkish court rules to keep award-winning human rights lawyer in jail

Judge Murat Arslan, imprisoned YARSAV President.

An Ankara court has ruled to continue the already year-long imprisonment of Murat Arslan, the last chairman of Turkey’s Judges and Prosecutors Association (YARSAV) who was awarded the 2017 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Arslan is accused of helping the followers of the faith-based Gülen movement infiltrate YARSAV during his tenure. YARSAV was earlier closed down under the government’s post-coup emergency rule.

Under arrest since Oct 26, 2016 as part of an investigation into the Gülen movement, Arslan denied the accusation during his court appearance on Thursday.

The court ruled to continue his imprisonment, with the next hearing scheduled for Dec 18, 2017.

“The fifth Václav Havel Human Rights Prize – which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights – has been awarded to Turkish supporter of the independence of the judiciary Murat Arslan,” PACE said in a statement early last month.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a July 15, 2016 failed coup, a claim strongly denied by the movement. (turkeypurge.com)

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