Samsun 3rd High Assize Court convicted thirteen (13) lawyers of the membership to the armed terrorist organisation and sentenced them to ranging from two to ten and half years.
Thirteen lawyers who are members of the Samsun Bar Association were taken into custody on August 2016 in the wake of the failed coup attempt.
After 21-month trial, the Court sentenced:
- lawyer Fevzi Cem Şenocak to 10½ years
- lawyer Yusuf Zotluoğlu to 7½ years
- lawyers Mustafa Kemal Açıcı, Zekeriya Albayrak, Serdar Kutlu, Neşe Yıldızoğlu, Fatma Şen to 6¼ years
- lawyers Serdar Şenocak, Kemal Yıldız, Serdar Baskın, Elmas Çatar, Dilek Kütükçü ve Recep Bağ 1,5 years.
The Court also decided to hold lawyer Fevzi Cem Şenocak in remand.
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 138.
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.