Şırnak – Twelfth hearing of the trial where since shuttered Dicle News Agency (DİHA) reporter Ziya Ataman faces terror-related charges was held before the Şırnak 1st High Criminal Court today. The verdict was announced during today’s hearing and the court sentenced Ataman to 14 years and 3 months in prison for “membership” charges. Ataman, whom MLSA represents in court, has been detained since April 11th, 2016.
Among those who monitored the final hearing of the trial where 21 defendants (10 of them have been in pre-trial detention) were Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) Diyarbakır representative Mahmut Oral and many journalists who expressed their solidarity with Ataman.
Journalist Ziya Ataman attended the hearing via SEGBİS video-conference system from Van Closed Prison where he’s been held since his initial arrest. Ataman presented his defense statement in his native Kurdish. A court clerk, who is also a certified translator, was present in the courtroom for translation.
Ataman stated that he repeats his previous statements and reminded the court that witness statements against him were taken under torture and were later retracted. Ataman also mentioned the memo book that allegedly has his name listed and asked: “If there are 400-500 names in that notebook, then why is it that only a dozen are on trial?” Noting that this was illogical, Ataman stated that his long detention has caused him health problems and demanded his acquittal and release.
Lawyer Zelal Doğan emphasized that her client was a journalist and drew attention to the fact that evidence against Ataman is made up of witness testimonies and a memo book with his name in it. Another lawyer, Mücahit Dursun, claimed that the prosecutor’s final opinion was copy-pasted from the police investigation report and the same text was used for each defendant without any specifications. “This is an attempt to fabricate crimes by using these defendants. Most of the defendants’ homes are burnt down. A lawsuit is filed based only on a memo book.”
Following a brief recess for deliberation, the court finally announced its verdict and sentenced journalist Ataman to 14 years and 3 months in prison for “membership in a terrorist organization” charges. Ataman’s lawyers will appeal this decision.