The reason the scale of justice is skewed in Turkey

The reason the scale of justice is skewed in Turkey

In the ongoing Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) case being heard in Istanbul, the suspect code named “Ebu Hanzala” - alleged to be one of the top leaders of the group in Turkey - and one of the six people tried along with him, were released by the court pending trial.

The court justified this ruling by saying the suspects’ statements had been taken and the “current situation of the evidence did not necessitate the unjust suffering of the defendants.”

Many people have long argued that it is wrong for suspects to be jailed pending trial when there is no possibility for them to spoil the evidence or flee justice. The fundamental principle should be trial without arrest. 

In this case, apparently, the court has decided on trial without arrest. It has decided on this even though these suspects are being tried on charges that they are top-level managers of ISIL in Turkey. 

Meanwhile, the same justice system has arrested three academics for signing the petition prepared by a group of academics. They are charged with “propagandizing for a terrorist organization.” This is a lighter crime than being a member or a top-level executive of a terrorist organization. 

The petition itself is included in the file of the prosecutor as evidence. The defendants’ statements have been taken. They will not be able to flee the country - even if they wanted to they had plenty of time to escape before they were first detained. 

So why are these academics still in jail? 

Clearly, the scale of justice needs an adjustment. It is out of balance. We all know why: The man who wants the academics to be arrested is both the “prosecutor” and the “judge.” 

What should EU consuls-general be doing in a country where such cases are held? Should they not be monitoring them? 

They don’t trust Turkey’s judiciary 

The attendance of EU consuls in Istanbul at the courthouse observing the trial of journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül has angered some of our statesmen. “What business do you have there?” they asked. Angry tweets were posted.

The EU consuls-general cannot explain why there were there due to diplomatic courtesy. But I can tell you why: They don’t trust Turkey’s justice system to function properly. 

It is the most natural right of the EU to observe, on the ground, the situation of a country that wants to become a member. The EU is monitoring the democratic and judicial standards of the country, which recently had to sign a severe refugee acceptance deal just to restart accession talks. 

Let’s not forget the Copenhagen Criteria. If you want to enter the EU, you have to accept these principles and you are expected to fulfill their requirements. 

In the EU, journalists are not often accused of “being spies” because of a story they have published. These member countries have a right to see what kind of a case this is. 

We should also be able to monitor the case. Unfortunately, the court has ruled that the case will now proceed in “secret hearings.” 

In an open society, such a case cannot be held in secret sessions. This oddity was added to the strange fact that the prosecutor of the case was abruptly changed by the authorities at the last minute. 

In sum, the EU member state consuls-general went to the court hearing because they are well aware that justice in Turkey is neither independent nor impartial.