Prosecutors again demand life imprisonment for Turkish sociologist Selek
Pıner Selek is known for her work on the Kurds.Turkish prosecutors have once again demanded life imprisonment for Turkish sociologist Pınar Selek for allegedly being involved in the bombing of Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar in 1998, in a Kafkaesque judicial procedure that has been overturned four times so far.
Selek’s lawyers once again stressed the lack of concrete evidence of her implication during the hearing on Dec. 5. The feminist scholar, who lives in Strasbourg and is known for her work on the Kurds, was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment last January, despite being acquitted of the same charge three times in the past. Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals eventually overturned the ruling last June, but only for Selek to once again face a life imprisonment sentence.
Experts who were called to investigate the attack have posited that the explosion, which killed seven and wounded dozens, was not caused by a bomb, but by a gas leak. Selek has also been accused of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) under the code name “Leyla.”
Selek’s lawyers argue that prosecutors have breached all known international and Turkish standards concerning double jeopardy and criminal trials by seeking to convict her despite her many acquittals.
A group of activists gathered before the hearing in front of Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse, condemning what they called a conspiracy against the scholar. “We have been waiting in front of courtrooms for 16 years. Pınar [Selek] has resisted this ruthlessness, this injustice, by trying to live as fully as she can,” said activist Füsun Demirel in a public statement at the gathering.
“We want Selek’s acquittal back. We will be standing guard on her behalf until she returns here,” she added.
Selek has been unable to return to Turkey for a number of years, and the Turkish Justice Ministry issued a red notice for Selek’s capture after last year’s final verdict, applying to the French authorities for her extradition.
The verdict condemning her to a life sentence had also caused huge debate, as it was handed down despite opposition by chief judge Vedat Yılmazabdurrahmanoğlu, who rejected the ruling on the grounds that there was a lack of evidence that the explosion was caused by a bomb.
But Yılmazabdurrahmanoğlu was eventually outvoted by two fellow judges on the court board.