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Statement of the Platform for an Independent Turkish Judiciary on criminal conviction of Murat Arslan

19. 01. 21

Europe, January 19th, 2019

CRIMINAL CONVICTION OF MR MURAT ARSLAN

 

Yesterday, Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize Winner Murat Arslan, President of the Independent Turkish Judges Association YARSAV, has been convicted under charges of being member of an armed terrorist organization (namely of being active member of FETÖ/PDY) and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

Mr Murat Arslan is a Turkish judge and president of the Turkish Association of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV).  He has  been arrested in October  2016 and remains since then in (pre-trial) detention.

He was awarded in October 2017 the Václav-Havel Human Rights prize by the

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

During  the  past  years the  Platform  for  an  Independent  Turkish  Judiciary,  that assembles the four most representative associations of judges in Europe (AEAJ, EAJ, J4J and Medel) has observed the persecution and procedure against Murat Arslan and has informed the public and the politicians about it.

In the course of the ongoing (first set of) criminal proceedings, evidence on the concrete  use  of  the  communication  system  ByLock  (similar  to  “whatsapp”  or other   communication   means)   and   its   evidential   value   for   the   concrete accusations was neither carefully analyzed nor thoroughly investigated.

Furthermore,  the  many  violations  of  the  Turkish  Criminal  Procedural  Code, characterizing  these  whole  proceedings,  have  culminated  in  an  unbelievable infringement  of  fundamental  procedural  rights  in  yesterday`s  hearing.  Basic fundamental  procedural  rights,  like  proper  representation  or  right  to  appeal against  biased  judges,  have  been  neglected  and  in  this  way  also  procedural safeguard of the Turkish laws were ignored. Against the background of European standards,  the  evidence  brought  forward  by  the  public  prosecutor  cannot  be regarded as sufficient evidence and has been nothing more than an enumeration of unproven assertions.

This  ignorance  of  basic  principles  of  a  fair  trial  –  which  could  be  perceived immediately by European trial monitors in the hearings – shows clearly that this was a purely politically motivated judgment, again bringing to light the lack of rule of law in Turkey.

Mr Murat Arslan has not only shown to give full protection of fundamental rights within  his  duties  as  a  judge,  but  has  also  resisted  emerging  pressure:  both, pressure on Turkish judiciary and pressure against him. In all his activities as president  of  YARSAV  he  never  restrained,  despite  his personal,  judicial  career was cracked  down (having served as  rapporteur in the Turkish  Constitutional Court, he was later transferred). Inter alia, he openly pleaded for international support in the course of the worsening situation of judicial independence after the corruption scandal of political power had emerged in December 2013.

The dedication and integrity of Mr Murat Arslan is crystal-clearly visible inter alia by simple reference to sequences of his acceptance speech, after having been awarded the Vaclav Human Rights Prize 2017:

“We fight for judicial independence and impartiality, rule of law, and democracy. We were guided by values that aim at full independence, contemporary civilization based on equality, laicism, the rule of law, human rights and freedoms. We resist to all   kinds   of   interruptions,   which   threatened   these   fundamental   values.   We struggled with defeating the rise of wall of fear where society was locked up. Prejudgments,  baseless  allegations  unfortunately  become  the  false  truth  in  our society. We made no concessions of our values that we advocated under all kinds of threats and pressure. We did what supposed to be done, and this approach was appreciated  by  the  international  society.  Then  we  became  representatives  of  a worldwide respected organization.

We  did  not  leave  our  country’s  falling  judiciary  to  one’s  fate.  We  left  salvation markers  to  every  corner  for  comeback.   Today,  we  are  having  exiles,  arrests  in prisons, but it will not change the reality. The price that we are paying just raises our faith in the coming days that the rule of law and democracy will be internalized and raises our fighting spirit.

We will continue to show that there are always exclaimers against injustice and unlawfulness while many others, who were supposed to speak up, and resist, were sinked into silence under the pressure of empire of fair.”

In this grave moment, the Platform wants to publicly express:

-     its solidarity to our Colleague Murat Arslan and his family, who will never be alone or without our solidarity and support

-     its   concern   about   the   grave   violation   of   fundamental   rules perpetuated   on   this   trial,   already   denounced   by   international observers,   undermining   the   present   conviction   that   must   be characterized as concretely unlawful and unfair;

-     its appeal to all European institutions to cease any cooperation with Turkish judiciary until Rule of Law is restored in the country and to use  all  means  to  convince  Turkey  to  end  its  witch-hunt  against judges and prosecutors

 

Edith Zeller m.p.

President of the Association of European Administrative Judges (AEAJ)

José Igreja Matos m.p.

President of the European Association of Judges (EAJ)

Tamara Trotman m.p.

President of Judges for Judges

Filipe César Marques m.p.

President of Magistrats Européens pour la Democratie et les Libertés (MEDEL)

 

Download the Statement.