Last trial dating back to military coup ends

Last trial dating back to military coup ends

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Last trial dating back to military coup ends

This file photo from 2009 shows a group of suspects during an appeal hearing of the now-defunct Revolutionary Path (Dev-Yol), that ceased due to the statute of limitations. Hürriyet photo

A 30-year case into the now-defunct far-left Revolutionary Path (Dev-Yol) ended without convictions yesterday as the Court of Appeals dropped the proceedings against the suspects due to the statute of limitations.

Ekrem Ertuğrul, the chief judge of the court’s 6th Criminal Chamber, announced that the decision was made unanimously, as relatives of the 21 defendants greeted the ruling in tears. The decision covered 20 defendants, while a lower court is expected to enforce the statute of limitations for one remaining defendant due to a legal technicality.

The defense welcomed the ruling but voiced frustration that the suspects were not acquitted.
“Justice delayed is justice denied. The statute of limitations is a shadow that blurs the truth. We wanted acquittal because that should have been the only outcome in a trial in which the charges were brought as a result of unlawful interrogations and torture,” defense attorney Şenal Sarıhan said.

“All suspects who stood trial in this case will be remembered as dignified people who carry the pride of having fought fascism,” said one of the defendants, Cahit Akçam. “Our only solace is that no one is going back to jail.”

The case began in 1982 at a martial court in the wake of the 1980 military coup on charges that the defendants committed murders and other violent acts in a bid to overthrow Turkey’s constitutional order. The trial began with 574 suspects but their number soon reached 723 as the military regime pursued a massive crackdown on leftist movements.

In 1989, the court sentenced seven people to death and 39 to life in prison. The ruling, however, was quashed by the Appeals Court and the retrial resulted in 22 death sentences.

Turkey’s abolition of the death penalty in 2001 prompted another retrial, in which 20 suspects were sentenced to life in prison and two others received 16-year jail terms. Another appeal followed, while, in the meantime, one of the defendants passed away.

The case was allegedly marred by the torture of suspects, flagrant breaches of the right to defense and the loss of documents and files.