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RIGHTS > Reform row looms with new rulings

ISTANBUL / ANKARA

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Relatives and colleagues of jailed scribes in coup case stage a protest. Hürriyet photo

Relatives and colleagues of jailed scribes in coup case stage a protest. Hürriyet photo

An Istanbul court refused to release suspects under arrest pending trial in a coup-plot case yesterday,
while a court in Ankara ruled to halt the execution of a convicted murderer’s prison sentence. The announcement came on the heels of a similar ruling to release two far-right militants convicted of killing
seven leftist students in 1978.

Muhsin Kehya, a far-right militant who was convicted of killing Adana Police Chief Cevat Yurdakul, and the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) heads in Kayseri and Antalya before the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, might soon be freed.

The decision was based on recent judicial reforms that altered the laws on detainees and arrests. However, the changes did not work in favor of OdaTV suspects Soner Yalçın, Yalçın Küçük, Barış Terkoğlu, Barış Pehlivan and Hanefi Avcı, whose release applications were rejected.

The court said the evidence regarding the Ergenekon case showed that there was a “strong suspicion of guilt” surrounding the arrestees.

The release of the far-right militants became possible through a last-minute amendment to the third judicial reform package during the debates at Parliament’s Justice Commission on June 2. According to the proposal submitted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), prison terms for those who committed several murders before the 1980 coup were reduced.

“Murders that were tried as organized crimes were punished with a single jail term; however, in some political prosecutions, each individual [murder] was sentenced separately. This amendment will correct this inequality,” Adem Sözüer, a law professor and advisor to the panel, said when the article was being debated.

The proposal was approved with AKP and MHP votes despite the CHP’s objections.

Meanwhile, the head of an Ankara court that released two suspects convicted of murdering seven leftist students in the 1978 Bahçelievler Massacre has expressed regret at the decision but noted that the new legal changes left him no choice but to free the inmates.

“Of course our conscience is hurt. But we had to implement the requirements of the law,” Ali Altınkaya, the head of the 3rd Ankara Court of Serious Crimes, was quoted as saying by daily Hürriyet yesterday.
Far-right militants Ünal Osmanoğlu and Bünyamin Adanalı, who killed seven student members of the now-defunct Turkish Labor Party (TİP) on Oct. 9, 1978, were discharged thanks to a court decision July 10 stemming from new legal regulations known as the “Third Judiciary Package.”

July/13/2012

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