September 7, 2018
On 5 September 2018, Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court ruled to allow all detained lawyers from the People’s Law Office to attend their hearings in person between 10 and 14 September 2018. The Court’s ruling followed the detained lawyers’ starting of a hunger strike on 3 September in protest against the Court’s initial decision to hear the majority of the lawyers through video call.
Between September and December 2017, 17 human rights lawyers from the People’s Law Office were arrested following orders from the Istanbul Criminal Peace Judge. 17 of the 20 lawyers facing charges remain in pre-trial detention in seven different prisons, far from their families and their places of residence. 17 lawyers were accused of transmitting instructions from the DHKP-C’s executive team to its members, while three of them were charged with “being managers of an armed terrorist organisation”. The DHKP-C (the revolutionary people’s liberation party) is considered as a terrorist organisation in Turkey.
After the defenders had spent up to a year in detention, Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court had stated that it would hear the majority of the detained lawyers through video call. Only Yaprak Türkmen and Selçuk Kozağaçlı, who have been detained in İstanbul Silivri Prison since their arrest, were to be personally brought to the courtroom for the hearings. The detained lawyers refused to participate in the hearings through video call, and appealed the Court’s decision. However, the Court refused their appeal to be heard in person on such grounds as travel costs, the length of the journeys and security concerns during travel from different prisons to the courtroom. On 3 September 2018, detained lawyers of People’s Law Office began a hunger strike in protest against the Court’s decision, and two days after, on 5 September, the Court ruled to hear all the detained lawyers personally during the hearings. The hearings are due to begin at 10 a.m. on 10 September 2018 at Bakırköy Courthouse, and are scheduled to conclude on 14 September.