September 14, 2017
Only one day before their court hearings, lawyers of Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca, the jailed hunger strikers of Turkey, have been arrested. The warrants were issued for 18 lawyers, all members of two law offices defending the teachers.“The detention of our colleagues today is an attempt in vain to leave Gulmen and Ozakca defenceless,” a lawyer representing the pair told Reuters.
Although a race is going on to violate the rights and freedoms during the investigations and prosecutions that have been conducted in Turkey for more than a year now, one of the most violated rights during this time has been the right to defence. The right of defence is secured under both national law and the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Public prosecutors are authorised to file criminal prosecutions and represent the public in criminal procedures. In other words, when a victim files a complaint against someone, the case is not automatically opened against the accused. First the public prosecutor completes his/her investigation, and if s/he reaches a conclusion that there is a strong suspicion of a crime, s/he files a public prosecution and s/he represents the public at the court. The victim, on the other hand, if there is a risk of being harmed by the crime, can only attend the court hearings and will have the right to take legal steps. Filing a case does not mean that the accused is counted guilty. By filing a case, the prosecutor asserts a claim against the accused and requests the court impose a penalty on the accused. In response to this, the accused defend themselves against the claims.