Van – The verdict in the case where journalist Erhan Akbaş faces charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” based on the work he carried out as a member of the Municipal Council of Erciş in Van in 2018, was delivered today by Van 7th High Criminal Court. Following the defense statements against the prosecutor’s opinion presented in the previous hearing, the court acquitted Akbaş and sentenced the other defendants to 2 years and 1 month in prison for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.”
While monitors and press members were not admitted into the courtroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic measures, journalist Akbaş did not attend the hearing himself and was represented by his lawyer Savaş Avcı. Lawyers of the other defendants, who are tried within the same file on the basis of secret witness statements, law enforcement reports and communication records; and defendant Bayram Çiçek, the former Erciş Municipality Co-Mayor, also attended the hearing.
Following the identity confirmations, defense lawyers argued against the final opinion presented during the previous hearing, in which the prosecutor’s office requested the acquittal of journalist Akbaş on the grounds of insufficient evidence and the conviction of all other defendants.
Lawyer Avcı noted that they expect the panel of judges to rule in accordance with the prosecutor’s final opinion. He said: “We repeat our previous defense statements. It is obvious that the legal elements of the alleged crime did not occur. We demand Akbaş’s acquittal in line with the prosecutor’s final opinion.”
Announcing its decision after the defense statements, the panel of judges decided to acquit Akbaş due to insufficient evidence, and sentenced the other defendants to 2 years and 1 month in prison for “aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.”