Ankara – Trial of journalist Çiğdem Toker resumed at the Ankara 13th Civil Court of First Instance today. Toker was sued by Şenbay Madencilik Inc. with a request of 1.5 million Turkish Liras in reparations. The company pressed charges against Toker for her column titled “If you’re looking to reduce spending, start with subway tenders,” which was published in Cumhuriyet daily on 27 October 2017. The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has sent the the tenders in question. The parties will each deliver a statement concerning this document.
Sözcü columnist Çiğdem Toker and her lawyer Şükrü Evrim İnal as well as the lawyer of the claimant firm Handan Çalık attended the third hearing of the trial that took place today before the Ankara 13th Civil Court of First Instance. Republican People’s Party (CHP) Eskişehir MP Utku Çakırözer and People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul MP Ahmet Şık were also present in the courtroom to show support for Toker.
In the previous hearing, the court had requested a copy of the subway tender documents that were the subject to Toker’s article from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure. The judge noted that the tender documents had been sent to the court by the General Directorate for Infrastructure Investments of the Ministry. It was stated that the information contained in these documents confirmed the accuracy of the information disclosed in Çiğdem Toker’s disputed article.
Both parties’ lawyers requested to additional time to present statement concerning the content of the tender documents. By granting the parties additional time to present their statements in response to the documents, the court adjourned the trial until October 17th, 2019.
On October 22nd, 2017 Çiğdem Toker’s column titled “If you’re looking to reduce spending, start with subway tenders” was published in Cumhuriyet newspaper. Toker, indicating that the head of the Istanbul Rail System Department had made biddings for 5 subway lines on March 3rd 2017, had explained that the amount of the proposed donation for these lines was of 1 billion 193 million Turkish Liras. She stated that after a long delay, one of the lines had been given for 1 billion Euros to the Şenbay-Kolin partnership, without any indication of a tender to be found.
“Most importantly these 1 billion Euros were given at a time when the exchange rate was extremely high. Kolin, one of the 5 groups to construct the new Istanbul Airport, is also one of the 2 companies to control the line going from Gayrettepe to the new airport. Şenbay is the other one. This makes the increasingly debated question of whether proximity to Prime Minister Yıldırım is a requirement a legitimate one […] You gave them a 1 Billion euro worth job, but when so little time is left to the opening of the airport, how will this 33 km long line be finished in time? ”she wrote.