In response to the conviction of Pinar Selek - from her lawyer

War Resisters' International have put out a statement condemning Pinar Selek's life sentence. You can read it here.

This letter comes from Yasemin Öz-Lawyer, International Spokesperson of Pınar Selek Support Committee

THE COURT ANNOUNCED ITS REASONING ON CONVICTION OF PINAR SELEK

On 6th of March 2013, Istanbul High Criminal Court Chamber 12 announced its reasoning on conviction of Pınar Selek. The reasoning of conviction was sent to the media before it was sent to the lawyers! The lawyers heard about the reasoning first from the media! The court’s reasoning for the conviction is based on the testimonies of suspects which are taken under heavy torture and later denied at the court by suspects themselves. The reasoning is also based on fake and bogus reports.

Here is a short list of the court’s reasoning with the comments of Pınar Selek’s lawyer Yasemin Öz;

1-The court basically based its reasoning on the testimony taken from Abdülmecit Öztürk by the police under torture and without the assistance of a lawyer and that he later disowned at the court.

The only direct basis for the accusation against Pınar Selek was the testimony Abdülmecit Öztürk gave to the police, in which he said “I placed the bomb in the Spice Bazaar together with Pinar Selek.” In the hearing on December 22nd 1998, with regards to the case against Öztürk and Selek charging them with placing a bomb in the Spice Bazaar, Abdülmecit Öztürk and the other defendants declared that they had been severely tortured , and that, actually, they didn’t even know Pinar Selek.

But in its reasoning, the court based its conviction on the testimonies of the suspects which were taken at the police station under torture and which the suspects have denied at the court. And the court even did not take into account the suspects’ testimonies taken at the court itself! The court accepted the testimonies of the suspects taken at the police station under torture as evidence for its conviction while not accepting the testimonies of the same suspects at the court in which they denied the testimonies at the police station! There is no logical explanation on this issue!

Since Abdülmecit Öztürk’s testimony is the only link between Pinar Selek and the accusation of bombing the Spice Bazaar, the court did not hesitate to accept this testimony as evidence just to give sentence to Pınar Selek. Although Abdülmecit Öztürk’s testimony has no validity, the court accepted it as evidence by breaking the law.

2-While Pınar Selek was under arrest in 1998, official reports that later came out to be fake were produced against her. In one report, it was portrayed as if the explosives and materials, which actually belonged to other people and which should have been destroyed by police before she was even taken into custody, had been found in the art atelier she had started for the street children where a lot of people frequented. However, it came out with the date, number and content of the crime scene investigation report, that the explosives which were claimed to be found in the atelier were really in the hands of the Police Department in order to be destroyed 22 hours before the atelier was searched and 13 hours before Pinar was taken into custody. It is also found out that the evidence had been tampered by changing the duct tapes (on which it is claimed that Pınar Selek’s fingerprints were found).

The court did not hesitate to accept these fake reports as evidence either!

3-The police made an imaginary accusation that Pinar had hidden a militant of a (terrorist) organization in the atelier for days, but, although it was in the police’s own reports that they had been keeping Pinar and the atelier under surveillance before they took her into custody, they could not find any member of a (terrorist) organization nor did they interrogate anyone that was related to the atelier (including the tenant).

Still in the reasoning of conviction of Pinar Selek, the court stated that Pinar Selek had hidden a militant of a (terrorist) organization in the atelier for days (but somehow the police could not find any militant!)

4- On December 22nd 2000, the Local Court released Pinar Selek. Upon this discharge, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Istanbul Police Department of the time sent a letter to the court, dated April 19th, 2001, saying that this release had greatly disturbed them. About three years after the explosion, these very same institutions also got a new report put into the file, which had no signature or date and said that “the explosion had been caused by a bomb,” even though they were not parties to the case and the Court had not made any such request. They thus demanded the Court to send the case over to the experts once again. Even though the Court did not accept the report as legal evidence, the case file was sent to the experts once again in accordance with the demands of these institutions. At this point, judicial independence had blatantly been intervened.

The court also took into consideration the report dated July 4th, 2002, prepared by opinions from members of the gendarmerie who had no expertise whatsoever in determining the origins of an explosion (a report with a dissenting opinion) had been prepared through spoliation of evidence and that it was a copy of the report with no signature or date (mentioned in above paragraph)

In its reasoning the court accepted these fake and illegal reports as evidence for bomb explosion! But the same court did not accept the reports stated below as evidence;

a) The Police Crime Scene Investigation reports and the Expert Reports of the Criminal Police Laboratory dated July 13th and 14th1998, which were prepared by the bomb experts of the Police right after the explosion at the Spice Bazaar said that there were no findings indicating a bomb. The Police Crime Scene Investigation Final Report, dated July 20th, 1998 also said “There are no findings with regards to a bomb.”

b) At the hearing on July 5th, 1999, the Chief Inspector, head of the Bomb Disposal Bureau of the Police, who made an on-site examination gave a statement as follows: “We have not found any trace of a bomb. A leakage of bottled gas may diffuse on the floor and cause such an explosion. If this were a bomb, it would open a pit of at least 50 cm where it exploded. However our on-site examination shows no such pit.”

c) The report dated June 15th, 2000 by Resat Apak, Director of İstanbul University Analytical Chemistry Department stated that “The Public Prosecutor’s report is not scientific and is inclined to mislead the Court. Nitrocellulose can be found in various materials, it is not a proof that there is a bomb.”

d) In the report of July 27th, 2000 by the Forensic Department of Cerrahpasa Faculty of Medicine also revealed that the Public Prosecutor’s report is not scientific and “None of the facts are in accordance with the wounding patterns through bomb explosion.

e) On December 21st, 2000, the reports of three expert professors appointed by the court confirmed the fact that the explosion had been caused by a gas leak and not a bomb.

f) The expert report appointed by the court on July 10th , 2002 confirmed the gas leakage explosion, while the final report dated November 21th, 2002, prepared by the Middle East Technical University Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department via ‘visual processing technology’ which was added to the file, declared that the explosion seems in accordance with the report stating the gas leakage, that the “report of the gendarmerie” was against the laws of physics and also revealed that the explosion had took place in the oven.

The court accepted the non-experts’ report (without date and signature) as evidence for the bomb explosion while not taking into account 5 different expert reports (including Police Crime Scene Investigation reports and the Expert Reports of the Criminal Police Laboratory) stating that the explosion could not be caused by a bomb!

Besides these illegalities, with the reasoning of the court, Abdülmecit Öztürk’s acquittal has been confirmed. By this way, while the record of testimony that was imposed upon Öztürk under torture which read “We did the act together” was not found valid or credible for himself, it was deemed valid and credible (!) for Pinar whom he said he was together with at the act.

The court also did not take into account the special expert report of Überleben Treatment Center for Victims of Torture dated August 2010. This report thereby officially confirming the torture Pinar Selek was subjected to under custody and the effects this left on her.

In the court’s reasoning, Chief Judge of the Court offered a dissenting opinion and voted in favor of Pınar Selek’s acquittal on the grounds that the Court had the right to insist on its acquittal ruling and that there was no adequate evidence for a conviction. However, based on the votes of the other two judges in the Board, the court issued the verdict with a two to one majority.

However, this is not the final judgment; domestic ways of seeking legal recourse have not yet been exhausted and this unlawful verdict will be appealed to the Supreme Court. This case, being so very long and unjust, has only furthered the victimization of Pinar Selek. It has therefore already been taken to the European Court of Human Rights as a precaution, demanding re-trial and indemnity, due to all the torture, the unjust legal proceedings and the disregard towards the freedom of expression.

Shortly, the two judges of the court built their reasoning for conviction of Pınar Selek on lies, fake and bogus reports which have been disproven before. Anyway it is not a surprising issue since there is and there can be no proof against Pinar Selek. After 15 years of proceedings and three acquittal decisions, the court sentenced Pınar Selek to heavy life imprisonment with no new evidence and fact. There is no change in the evidences and facts since Pınar Selek’s last acquittal. There can be no explanation on how the court changed its decision from acquittal to life imprisonment. The reasoning of the conviction of Pınar Selek once again showed that this is not a trial but an illegal political operation which’s target is Pınar Selek.

One more time, we kindly ask the international community to support Pınar Selek for her struggle to reach justice.

Kindest regards,
Yasemin Öz-Lawyer
International Spokesperson of Pınar Selek Support Committee