Case Monitoring

Prosecutor requests up to 15 years for journalist Beritan Canözer

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The public prosecutor delivered his opinion in the trial by which journalist Beritan Canözer was judged regarding news which she wrote following the announcement in 2015 of the imposition of a curfew in the district of Sur, in Diyarbakır. He requested that the journalist be sanctioned by up to 15 years’ imprisonment for the crime of “being a member of an organization”

The second hearing in this trial, which opened with the request that Diyarbakır – Jin News reporter Beritan Canözer, accused of “being a member of an organisation”, be sentenced from 7,5 to 15 years’ imprisonment, took place before the Diyarbakır 9th Heavy Sentence Tribunal. The accusation was founded on a local news article written by the reporter following the announcement in 2015 of a curfew as well as witness testimonies given against her. 

Journalist Canözer, tried without arrest, and her lawyer Resul Temur took part in the trial. The hearing began with the reading out of documents added to the case files and of the statement given upon instructions by witness Canan Ceylan to the Van 4th Heavy Sentence Tribunal. 

“I am a journalist, my activities are journalistic ones”

The prosecutor then made clear that he had nothing to say against the witness acknowledgment and did not have any requests regarding an expansion of the prosecution, before declaring that he would give hıis observations regarding the case itself. Journalist Canözer, on the other hand, rejected the witness statement against her, and declared “I am a journalist, my activities are journalistic ones. Writing news is my duty.” Lawyer Temur also objected to the terms used in the witness’ statement.

In his observations, the prosecutor argued that statements given previously by 4 witnesses questioned after being suspected of the offence of “being part of an organization” pointed to Canözer as a member of an armed organisation, receivıng orders and instructions from those at the upper levels of the organization. Claiming that the witness statements given against Canözer were consistent with each other, and that there was nothing to suggest that the witnesses could have any reason to slander Canözer, the prosecutor argued that, all considerations taken into account, the journalist was a “PKK and KCK member”, carried out operations as part of these organizations and acted upon instructions she received from them; making her guilty of the offence of “being a member of an organization.” He then requested that she be sentenced for this offence to up to 25 years imprisonment.

In response to these observations, Canözer said: “I do not accept these claims. I am requesting that I be granted the time to defend myself against these claims.”

Canözer’s lawyer also declared that he wished to be given additional time to defend his client against the accusations. He underlined that there were only 2 witness statements against Canözer, among which that of Canan Ceylan, who after having been jailed for 3 years wished to benefit from the effectıve repentance law by filing a petition and had identified 186 persons at once. Temur declared “My client is being charged with being a member of an organization on the basis of statements disregarding her declarations. The case resembles cases of murder without victim. It is said that my client has carried out interviews with members of organizations, but there are no interviews to support this claim. The statements contradict the truth. The case file contains no evidence in relation to such an interview”.

The Court, delivering its decision after having heard both sides, announced that Canözer and her lawyer would have until the next session to present their defence against the prosecutor’s accusations. The Court fixed the next hearing to October 16th, 2019, to allow any missing elements of the case file to be completed.