Case Monitoring

Journalists Olaf Koens and Pepijn Nagtzaam are acquitted

MAHKUM ABİ*

Edirne – The second hearing of the trial in which journalists Olaf Koens and Pepijn Nagtzaam whom MLSA represents in court, face “defying the Law  no. 2565 on Military Forbidden Zones and Security Zones” was held in the Edirne 5th Criminal Court of First Instance. Reasoning that the elements of the offense which journalists were charged with did not occur, the court acquitted Koens and Nagtzaam.

Journalists Olaf Koens and Pepijn Nagtzaam who were detained on September 27, 2021 in Höyüklütatar, Edirne while covering the pushback of refugees by the Greek Army. The prosecution claimed that journalists entered a second degree military zone. However, the expert’s opinion submitted to the court before the hearing determined that the area was a first degree military zone. 

Journalists who did not attend the hearing were represented by attorney Erselan Aktan. Attorney Aktan began his defense by saying that it is impossible for foreign journalists to know that the area they entered was a forbidden military zone considering the fact that even the expert had to conduct a technical investigation and research to determine that the area in question was a first degree military zone. Attorney Aktan continued: “The alleged crime can only occur after two elements are established: entering the zone secretly and under false pretenses. Journalists who entered the zone in broad daylight stopped immediately after they were instructed to do so and produced appropriate papers showing that they were foreign nationals and were there to report on the incident. Considering these facts, none of the elements of the alleged crime occurred in this instance.”

Reminding the court that journalists, both inside and outside of Turkey were invited by the authorities to come to the region and report about the violence targeting the refugees, attorney Aktan argued that both the expert’s report and the witness statements confirm the statements of the journalists. Attorney Aktan requested that journalists Koens and Nagtzaam be acquitted of the charges on the grounds that the elements of the alleged crime did not occur.

The hearing continued after a 15-minutes break requested by the prosecutor so that she can prepare her final opinion. The prosecutor requested that the journalists be acquitted. Announcing its verdict, the court ruled to acquit journalists Olaf Koens and Pepijn Nagtzaam.

*This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. The work may be used and redistributed for non-commercial purposes with proper attribution to MLSA.