Judge promises speedy trial for scribes in prison

Judge promises speedy trial for scribes in prison

ISTANBUL / ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Judge promises speedy trial for scribes in prison

Colleagues, friends and supporters of imprisoned journalists gather in front of the Istanbul courthouse, saying that there can be no free dom in a country, where there is no free press. Members of Freedom to Journalists Platform also read a statement in front of the courthouse that journalists in Turkey were under oppression. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Chief Judge Mehmet Ekinci of the Oda TV case, in which a group of journalists are accused of being members of and helping an outlawed organization, said during yesterday’s hearing the case will move as fast as possible.

The case’s third hearing took place yesterday, as an announcer began to read the 134-page indictment against 14 suspects, including arrested journalists Nedim Şener, Ahmet Şık and Soner Yalçın. The defendants are accused of having ties to the Ergenekon group.

During yesterday’s hearing, defendants Şık and Yalçın Küçük had argued regarding the case’s proceedings.

When the chief judge announced that the case would not be continued Dec. 28 but on Dec. 29 instead, Küçük was reported to have said that it would be fine for them. However Şık said he was opposed to the delay and he would prefer the case to proceed as quickly as possible, telling Küçük he should speak on his own behalf.

As tensions rose, Ekinci warned them not to speak among themselves and said the trial would have a break today, but the court would not stop working to finish the judicial process as fast as possible.
Prosecutors in the Oda TV case said those convicted of aiding and abetting the outlawed Ergenekon organization should be imprisoned for 7.5 to 41 years.

As the Oda TV case continues, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said Turkey is better than some Scandinavian countries when it comes to pre-trial detention periods, downplaying criticism on the issue.

“There is a misperception that pre-trial detentions are too long in Turkey. Among those who are currently in jail, 28.4 percent are detainees, while the rest are convicts,” Ergin said in a speech to the Fourth Ambassadors’ Conference.

Detention periods

Referring to a British study on detention periods, Ergin said that Turkey ranked better than 204 countries and was ahead of Denmark, Israel, Sweden, the Netherlands and Argentina.

Out of 36,430 inmates awaiting trial in prison, he said, 27,111 have been behind bars for up to one year, while 5,493 have been imprisoned for periods of between one and two years, and another 2,357 for between two and three years.

“I wouldn’t argue that two or three years are short periods of time, but there is a perception that pre-trial detentions are much longer,” Ergin said.

He said the situation was actually improving and that the number of those awaiting trial in jail had fallen from 50 percent of inmates in 2000 to 28.4 percent today.

The minister disputed figures from the Turkish Journalists’ Union on the number of journalists in jail, arguing that their 72-man list included three names that could not be found in prison records.

Meanwhile, a new indictment was submitted to the court yesterday as part of the ongoing Ergenekon case.

The indictment seeks jail time for 11 suspects including former justice minister Seyfi Oktay, who is accused of being a member of an outlawed organization. k HDN