ICJ calls for end to Leyla Zana trial after 10 years of proceedings

On the day it released two reports on the first re-trial and appeal of Leyla Zana and her co-defendants, the ICJ called for the Heavy Penal Court to dismiss the charges against the former parliamentarians.

“Given the length of the proceedings, the defendants’ right to be tried within a reasonable time has been seriously violated; it is time for the Court to address this wrong and dismiss all charges against them,” said Nicholas Howen, ICJ Secretary-General.

After having observed the proceedings at the State Security Court and the Court of Cassation, the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers of the ICJ concluded that the equality of arms between the prosecution and the defence was not upheld, which threatened the independence and impartiality of the tribunals. The State Security Court fundamentally lacked independence and the proceedings violated the presumption of innocence, the right to a public hearing and, as the defendants remained in detention, the right to liberty and security.

“There has been progress in Turkey, especially the abolition of the State Security Courts and the recognition that Leyla Zana’s first trial was fundamentally unfair,” said Nicholas Howen.

“But the reports we are releasing today show that there are still serious flaws in the way trials are conducted that should now be reformed,” the Secretary-General added. “We hope that the second re-trial of Leyla Zana ad her co-defendants will demonstrate that the reform process is continuing.”

Leyla Zana and her co-defendants were tried and sentenced in 1994 to a term of 15 years of imprisonment for their alleged membership in an armed gang (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK). They were released pending appeal on 8 June 2004 after the Public Prosecutor identified several flaws in the proceedings. On 14 July 2004, the Court of Cassation allowed the defendants’ appeal, quashed the conviction and remitted the case to the newly established Heavy Penal Court, where the re-trial will commence on 22 October.

The links to these reports are available below:

Report of the Re-trial of Leyla Zana and Three Other Kurdish Former Parliamentarians Before No. 1 Ankara State Security Court on 23 May, 20 June, 18 July, 15 August, 15 September, 17 October and 21 November 2003, and 16 January, 20 February, 12 March, 2 April and 21 April 2004

Report of the Appeal of Leyla Zana and Three Other Kurdish Former Parliamentarians Before the Court of Cassation, Ankara on 8 July 2004, 14 July 2004

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