Re-trial of Leyla Zana and her co-defendants is grossly unfair

In a report released today on another phase of the re-trial of Leyla Zana and three other defendants, the ICJ condemned the manifestly unfair proceedings.

“Once again, we strongly condemn the grossly unfair trial proceedings and the lack of independence of the Ankara State Security Court in the high-profile case of Leyla Zana and her co-defendants” stated Linda Besharaty-Movaed, Legal Advisor for the ICJ. “There is no legal basis for the continued detention of these persons and they must be immediately released”she added.

In a report released today on the 20 June re-trial of Leyla Zana and 3 other defendants, all Kurdish former M.P.’s, the ICJ urged the Turkish Government to ensure that the right of the defendants to a fair trial was respected in accordance with international standards.

The re-trial was based on a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, Sadaak and Others v. Turkey, which stated that the former parliamentarians had not received a fair trial in 1994 when they had been charged with “membership in an armed gang” and sentenced to a term of 15 years of imprisonment by a State Security Court for their alleged involvement in the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

The ICJ trial observers who monitored the proceedings on 20 June, Mr. Stuart Kerr, Barrister of England and Wales and Linda Besharaty-Movaed, Legal Advisor of the ICJnoted grave violations of the principle of equality of arms between the defence and the prosecution, the most striking of which was that it was only after the agreement of the prosecution that the Court allowed the defence to call witnesses.

Furthermore, the ICJ is deeply concerned about the following: while the prosecutor and the judges sat together on an elevated platform and communicated throughout the proceedings, the defence lawyers were relegated to benches at ground level; the submissions of the prosecutor were typed directly into the record while the defence’s were merely summarized by the judge; and the Court did not allow defence to bring a prosecution witness from Germany for cross-examination.

The ICJ observed the 23 May re-trial and found that the right to a fair trial was violated then as well.

The next hearing will take place on 18 July 2003. The ICJ will be monitoring this proceeding.

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