Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals overturns life sentence for sociologist Pınar Selek

Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals overturns life sentence for sociologist Pınar Selek

Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals overturns life sentence for sociologist Pınar Selek

The feminist scholar is known for her works on Kurds and resides in Strasbourg. Hürriyet Photo

Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has overturned an aggravated life sentence given to sociologist Pınar Selek, who was convicted for allegedly being involved in the bombing of Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar in 1998.

Ahead of the June 11 hearing, prosecutors at the high court had asked for the approval of the sentence. The sentence had sparked wide controversy, as an expert report had stated that the explosion, which killed seven people, was actually caused by a gas leak.

The feminist scholar, who is known for her work on Kurds and resides in Strasbourg, was tried and convicted in 2012 for being a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) under the code name “Leyla,” but was acquitted three times in subsequent appeals.

The Supreme Court said June 10 that it had overturned the latest sentence on procedural grounds, adding that local courts could not decide to “resist” a high court ruling without an objection from the chief prosecutor.

'Strange joy'

In her first comments after the ruling, Selek expressed her relief.

“Even this joy shows the strangeness of all this. This was what should have happened in the first place. But our struggle will continue. The Supreme Court of Appeals has only overturned the ruling on my conviction,” she told daily Hürriyet, stressing that she was still facing a retrial in a local court.

“This outcome shows that in spite of all the injustices, we can change things by continuing a legal battle with patience and determination. There are many injustices in Turkey and I hope this ruling will set an example for them too,” she added.

Selek also said she missed Turkey and Istanbul deeply, as she has been unable to return for years.

Selek’s lawyers had already claimed that her acquittals had been overturned by “illegal means” and underlined that the judicial procedure also violated the principle of double jeopardy, with many considering the latest trial as a “triple jeopardy.”

Last year’s final verdict convicting her to a life sentence had also caused huge debate, as it had been handed down in spite of the opposition chief judge Vedat Yılmazabdurrahmanoğlu, who rejected the ruling on the grounds that there was a lack of evidence that the explosion was caused by a bomb. Yılmazabdurrahmanoğlu was outvoted by two fellow judges on the court board.

Following the ruling, the Justice Ministry issued a red notice for Selek’s capture and applied to the French authorities for her extradition.