The ICJ and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) have jointly sent international observers to attend the first hearing of the criminal trial on the “Gezi Park” protest at the Silivri Prison Courthouse in Istanbul, scheduled to take place on 24 and 25 June 2019.
The International Observers who will be attending are Justice Ketil Lund, former judge of the Supreme Court of Norway and ICJ Commissioner, and Dr Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association.
Justice Lund and Dr Ellis will be observing a trial hearing before İstanbul 30th Assize Court with principal defendant Osman Kavala and 15 others: Ali Hakan Altınay, Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı, Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Gökçe Yılmaz, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, İnanç Ekmekci, Memet Ali Alabora, Mine Özerden, Şerafettin Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Yiğit Aksakoğlu and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi.
The observers will report directly to the IBAHRI and ICJ Secretariats on the proceedings following the mission.
The Gezi Park protests began in May 2013 as an effort by a group of environmentalists to save a park in central Istanbul from being rezoned, but soon turned into nationwide demonstrations. The protest was quelled by police with the use of tear gas and water cannons against the protesters in Taksim Square.
Following a six-year investigation into the events, the 657-page indictment issued by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office was accepted by the 30th A Court in Istanbul on 4 March 2019.
The defendants are to be charged under Turkish Criminal Code Article 312 (attempt to overthrow the Turkish Government or attempt to prevent it from fulfilling its duties), Article 151 (damage to property), Article 152 (qualified damage to property), Article 174 (possession or exchange of hazardous substances without permission), Article 153 (damaging places of worship and cemeteries), Article 149 (qualified robbery), Article 86 (intentional injury); crimes under the Law on Firearms, Knives and Other Tools no. 6136, and crimes under the Law on Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets no. 2863. The total sentence asked for by the prosecution for these offences amounts to approximately 47,520 years imprisonment.
Massimo Frigo, Senior Legal Adviser, t: +41 22 979 38 05 – e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org