Former Kurdish MP’s denied the right to a fair trial

The ICJ condemns the grossly unfair proceedings in the re-trial of former Kurdish M.P.’s before the Ankara State Security Court on the charge of “membership in an armed gang.”

The ICJ monitored the trial of Leyla Zana (photo) and her co-defendants and in its report released today concluded that there were serious deficiencies throughout the trial.

“The principle of equality of arms, which is fundamental to the notion of a fair trial, was once again violated in Leyla Zana’s trial” stated Linda Besharaty-Movaed, Legal Advisor .

Based on a July 2001 judgement by the European Court of Human Rights that the trial of Leyla Zana and her co-defendants in 1984 had been unfair due to the presence of a military judge, the defendants were re-tried at No. 1 Ankara State Security Court. Mr. Paul Richmond, Barrister of England and Wales, observed the hearing of 23 May for the ICJ.

The ICJ was shocked at allegations that prior to the commencement of the re-trial, the President of the State Security Court publicly declared that, “The deficiencies and mistakes identified by the European Court will not change the guilt of the accused.” This reported statement indicates a profound disrespect for the right to a fair tribunal.

Furthermore, Mr. Richmond observed several egregious inequalities between the parties during the course of the trial: the Prosecution was allowed to present 26 witnesses while the Defence was not allowed to call even one witness; the Defence was prevented from asking relevant questions of Prosecution witnesses and was not allowed to present evidence; the Prosecution failed to disclose material evidence prior to the trial; a witness for the Prosecution, whose first language was Kurdish was not provided with an interpreter in the courtroom; and only the Prosecution had access to a computer.

The next hearing will take place on 20 June 2003. The ICJ will be monitoring this proceeding.

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