Denizli 2nd High Assize Court convicted eight lawyers of the membership to the armed terrorist organisation and sentenced them to ranging from six to seven years.
Ten lawyers who are members of the Denizli Bar Association were taken into custody on August 2016 in the wake of the failed coup attempt. Eight of them, lawyers Muhammed İkbal Çil, Muammer Güler, Özcan Aksoy, Emre Karcı, Yusuf Yılmaz, Müdayi Kaplan, Hüdayi Kayhan, Mustafa Maskan were subsequently arrested because of their (alleged) links or affiliation to Gulen Movement.
After 20-month pre-trial detention, the Court sentenced lawyers Muhammed İkbal Çil, Muammer Güler, Özcan Aksoy to seven years and six months and decided to hold them in remand.
Lawyers Emre Karcı, Yusuf Yılmaz, Müdayi Kaplan, Hüdayi Kayhan, Mustafa Maskan were sentenced to six years in three months and released with probation by the court. They’ll serve the remaining term of the sentence If the convict was upheld by the Court of Cassation.
By this latest decision to convict, numbers of Turkish lawyers so far have been convicted of terrorism-related offences since 15th July 2016 raised to 125.
All persecuted lawyers are being charged with terror-linked offenses; the main two accusations directed against them are membership to an armed terrorist organisation, and forming and leading an armed terrorist organisation. Article 314 of the Penal Code criminalises the establishment and commanding of (Article 314/1), as well as membership (Article 314/2) to an armed organisation. Under the Turkish Penal Code, these two offences attract 7,5 to 22,5 years imprisonment. The Penal Code does not contain a definition of an armed organisation or an armed group.
The lack of legal definitions and criteria of the armed terrorist organization and the crime of membership in the armed terrorist organization make them prone to arbitrary application. Vague formulation of the criminal provisions on the security of the state and terrorism and their overly broad interpretation by the Turkish judges and prosecutors make all lawyers and other human rights defenders a prospective victim of judicial harassment. This blurred area under the Turkish Penal code is actively used by the Turkish government to investigate, prosecute and convict opponents.
As it has become a common practice in after the 15th July Coup attempt, 402.000 individuals have been investigated, prosecuted and / or convicted for terrorism offences stipulated in article 314 of Turkish Penal Code.15 Lawyers have particularly been targeted due to identity or affinity of their clients.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that the OHCHR has observed a pattern concerning persecution of lawyers representing individuals accused of terrorism offences, where they are associated with their clients political views (or alleged political views) in the discharge of their professional duties and are consequently prosecuted for the same or other related offences of which their clients are being accused.