High court prosecutor demands approval of convicted sociologist’s life sentence
Pınar Selek and her lawyers argue that Turkish justice's sentence breaches all known international and Turkish standards concerning double jeopardy. Selek also recently said that France would npt extradite her but denied considering claiming asylum at her host country. Hürriyet photoProsecutors at the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals have demanded the approval of a life sentence meted out to sociologist Pınar Selek ahead of an appeal hearing in the case.
The feminist scholar, who resides in Strasbourg and is known for her works on Kurds, was convicted of bombing Istanbul’s famous Spice Bazaar in 1998 and sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment last January, despite being acquitted of the same charge three times in the past. Experts called to speak on the case frequently posited that the explosion, which killed seven and wounded dozens, was not caused by a bomb, but by a gas leak.
Prosecutors said Selek’s sentence on charges of should be approved despite lawyers arguing that the Kafkaesque judicial procedure breached all known international and Turkish standards concerning double jeopardy and criminal trials.
Selek was allegedly subjected to torture for a year while in detention until she was released in December 2000, only to be retried. The appeal court eventually acquitted her for a third time before she was again convicted in 2012 for being a member of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) with the code name “Leyla.”
Last year’s final verdict, which was handed down in spite of chief judge Vedat Yılmazabdurrahmanoğlu’s opposition, stirred great outrage both inside and outside Turkey. Yılmazabdurrahmanoğlu rejected the verdict on the grounds that there was a lack of proof that the explosion was even caused by a bomb, but he was outvoted by his colleagues on the court board.
Following the ruling, the Turkish Justice Ministry issued a red notice for Selek’s capture and applied to French authorities for her extradition.
‘I demand my acquittal’
The sociologist, who is currently pursuing doctoral studies on the Kurdish issue at Strasbourg University to escape prosecution in Turkey, has repeatedly denied considering claiming asylum in France.
Selek told Cihan News Agency that she still intended to pursue her legal battle against what has been many times described as “persecution.”
“My three acquittals were overturned by illegal means after the files sent to the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals were retracted. I demand my acquittal,” Selek said.
“My entire fight is to return to my country. We cannot start a new page because [Turkey] has not shed light on the dark eras of the past,” she said in reference to the 1990s, when the Turkish state pursued a dirty war marked by extrajudicial torture and execution against its perceived enemies, especially Kurds and leftists.
The ruling has transformed Selek into a symbol of the struggle for human rights in Turkey. She was also cited as a symbol of the women’s rights struggle during an event on March 8 as part of International Woman’s Day.