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Cumhuriyet trial arrested journalists are listening to one of witnesses today's hearing

Interim Judgement on 3rd Hearing: Journalist Kadri Gürsel Released, four left arrested

Elif Akgül, Bianet

The third hearing in the Cumhuriyet trial was held today (September 25) before İstanbul 27th Heavy Court in Çağlayan Courthouse.

Six of the 20 defendants namely the President of Cumhuriyet daily’s Executive Board Attorney Akın Atalay, Cumhuriyet Foundation Management Board member Attorney Bülent Utku, Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, correspondent Ahmet Şık, columnist Kadri Gürsel and Twitter user Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu were in detention on remand.

At the end of today’s hearing, in which the witnesses were deposed, the court ruled that columnist Kadri Gürsel be released pending trial and the other five defendants remain further in detention on remand.

“Three attorneys for each defendant”

During the hearing, the court ordered those who had been standing in the courtroom and watching the hearing to leave the courtroom and ruled that “there should be three attorneys for each defendant”.

Witnesses were heard

Fatih Aytuğ, the witness for Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu was the first witness to be heard. Aydoğdu in his deposition explained his acquaintanceship with the defendant Aydoğfu and answered to the questions of the chief judge.

After Fatih Aytuğ, former member of the Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Alev Çoşkun was deposed followed by Rıza Zelyut.

Alev Coşkun: “These colleagues would make no FETÖ member”

Former member of the Cumhuriyet Foundation Executive Board Alev ÇoşkunAlev Coşkun has answered the questions which covered the course of events the elections of members of the Foundation Executive board up to the deposition before the prosecutor’s office.

Explaining which of the witnesses he knew better and which not so well, Alev Coşkun stating that he had worked for 22 years for Cumhuriyet daily and added:

“I know the pasts of these friends, I have worked for 22 years with them, I know their way of living. These colleagues would make no terrorist, they would make no FETÖ members. I ask of your court that these friends be released pending trial”.

Referring to an objection they had filed earlier against the election process of Foundation Executive Board members, Coşkun said:

“The current trial is a criminal trial […], it has nothing to do with the lawsuit we had opened. Our case was a simple action for nullity.

“As our friends were arrested in October [2016], me and my colleagues were the first ones who objected to this. We said that we were against these arrests and also issued a declaration”.

What happened?

On October 31, 2016, İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office began investigating Cumhuriyet Foundation executives on charges of “Making publications that justify July 15 coup attempt” and “committing crime for PKK/KCK and FETÖ/PDY as non members”.

On the same day, Cumhuriyet Daily Editor-in-Chief Murat Sabuncu, columnist Hakan Kara, columnist Hikmet Çetinkaya, columnist Kadri Gürsel, President of the Executive Board Attorney Akın Atalay, Cumhuriyet daily ombudsperson Güray Öz, former Editor-in-Chief and columnist Aydın Engin, cartoonist Musa Kart, Cumhuriyet Foundation Management Board member Attorney Bülent Utku, Cumhuriyet Foundation Management Board member Attorney Mustafa Kemal Güngör, Cumhuriyet Foundation Management Board member Önder Çelik, former Accounting Manager Bülent Yener, Editor-in-Chief of the Cumhuriyet Book Supplement Turhan Günay and Accounting Manager Günseli Özaltay were taken into custody in a police operation.

On December 31, 2016 correspondent Ahmet Şık and on April 19, 2017 accounting department employee Emre İper were arrested.

On April 4, 2017, after 156 days in pre-detention following the first wave of arrests on November 5, 2016, the bill of indictment was prepared.

Two hearings have been held so far. At the end of the first hearing, Güray Öz, Musa Kart, Bülent Utku, Hakan Kara, Önder Çelik, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Turhan Günay were released and Murat Sabuncu, Akın Atalay, Kadri Gürsel, Ahmet Şık and Ahmet Kemal Aydoğdu remained further in jail. At the end of the second hearing, the court denied the release of the six defendants in detention on remand. Columnist Kadri Gürsel was released on the third hearing.

The investigation was initially launched by prosecutor Murat İnam who was at the same time a suspect in the trial of “FETÖ (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization)”.

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