Prosecutor cites “comprehensive evidence” in lawyer arrests
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Istanbul Prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı (R). AA Photo
Istanbul Prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı confirmed that “comprehensive evidence” gathered from various sources, including Belgium and the Netherlands, established the alleged links between the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) and nine lawyers who were arrested last week.
Çolakkadı cited witness accounts and the tracking of suspects in what he called “sufficient evidence” that resulted in the arrest of nine layers, including Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD) head Selçuk Kozağaçlı, and the detention of over 30 suspects for allegedly working with the group, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
Twelve lawyers were detained in raids on Jan. 18 and Jan. 20, and nine were arrested the following day. The ÇHD, an organization that provides judicial support to victims, received the strongest hit, with several of its members arrested. Over 60 people were detained in total in Turkey’s three largest cities of Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir.
The searches conducted as part of the investigation took place “with prosecutors, lawyers, bar officials, suspects and suspects’ lawyers present at the scene,” Çolakkadı told reporters, denying all previous reports that claimed otherwise, despite confirming the early arrival of police officers.
“Policemen arrived earlier,” Çolakkadı said. “But that was just for security precautions. Nothing illegal took place.”
The door was broken only when those inside refused to let officers in, he added.
Çolakkadı also responded to claims of mistreatment of the suspects in custody, confirming an ongoing investigation into the claims.
“If such claims are true, we will take the necessary steps,” he said.
Evidence from Belgium, Netherlands
An official statement was released following Çolakkadı’s statements, citing evidence against the organization from sources in Belgium and the Netherlands that “constitute criminal charges” against the DHKP/C members. A detailed listing of all known activities of the group was also handed out to press members after the prosecutor’s speech.
The DHKP/C was allegedly responsible for the deaths of three police officers over the past six months, Çolakkadı said, as well as countless other assassination attempts and attacks on police stations.
Three different investigations are being conducted in relation to the group, and elongated custody periods for detainees have been approved by prosecutors, according to the official statement.
None of the lawyers have been arrested for their practices, the official statement stated, adding that over 25,000 lawyers were working in Istanbul, with only nine involved in the case.
The arrests caused a strong backlash nationwide, with both domestic and foreign figures voicing concern over abuse of law.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the arrests an “arbitrary and abusive use of anti-terrorism laws in Turkey.”
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has criticized the arrests as well, accusing the judges of serving the government.
“They have launched a mass hunt in Turkey via mass investigations. Wherever there are dissidents, they chase them and put them behind bars. What kind of democracy is this?” Kılıçdaroğlu said during a Jan. 23 group meeting.