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IAPL Protests the Turkish Government and Stands With Ugur Yesiltepe, a people’s lawyer arrested on assumptive grounds

February 13, 2015

Ugur YesiltepeA criminal case was filed at the then Specially Authorized Malatya 4th High Criminal Court against Attorney at Law U?ur Ye?iltepe, President of Tunceli Bar Association, with claims of him being a member of an organization and a penalty of 6 years and 3 months was established in a short period of time as a result of a trial which did not consider defenses made. Apellate review was made by the Penal Department No. 9 of the Supreme Court and the file was submitted to the Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor’s Office upon a hasty ratification made a few days before the decision of reassignment of the department members.

Attorney at Law U?ur Ye?iltepe, President of Tunceli Bar Association, is a lawyer whose area of speciality is criminal prosecution. Mr. Ye?iltepe has generally rendered services to his clients in politically charged suits. In this context, the penalization of Attorney at Law U?ur YE?ILTEPE due to the dialogs, meetings he had with his clients and his occupational activities is in question as these have been made out to be constituting crime factors.
Issues of legally assisting in the investigation of some organization members to which he was not the defense counsel and without a power of attorney, participating in some events such as May Day, Newroz, etc. which took place in Tunceli city center, participating in press statements, participating in a few funeral ceremonies which took place in the city center and again legally assisting some individuals on trial with the accusation of being organization members” have been put forward as grounds for the penalization of Mr. Ye?iltepe for being an organization member.
Penalization especially of a bar association president, who is the head of a judiciary institution, in a democratic constitutional state with these claims is an unmitigated law scandal.
As is known, the foundation of democracy lies in constitutional state and security of law. An attorney of law is the guarantee for the protection of rights and freedoms of the citizens and the elimination of law violations. In this context, there can be no security of law for any citizen without the attorney of himself/herself being secure in law. Charging and conviction of a lawyer based on abstract and assumptive claims due to his occupational activities is an intimidation tactic against the defense. And this situation creates pressure on the defense.
The lawsuit is more of a political nature than judicial. The investigation in question was carried out by the law enforcement agency whose own law enforcement officers have currently been relieved of duty and who has been dubbed as the parallel structure by the Turkish government itself and afterwards the bill of indictment was issued by the prosecution office who has been considered as the judicial pillar of the parallel structure again by the Turkish government officials. In the end, the judgement was made by the specially authorized courts whose existence and all judgements are controversial and which have now been abolished. The judgement of the local court was hastily ratified by the Penal Department No. 9 of the Supreme Court whose legality is controversial in many societal cases and whose members have all been assigned to different departments as of January 2015. Following this phase, an application was made to the Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor’s Office for our Bar Association president with the purpose of reviewing the judgement via contention of unconstitutionality. But Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor’s Office rejected the application.
Within this framework, the heavy penalization of Attorney at Law U?ur YE?ILTEPE, President of Tunceli Bar Association, on abstract and assumptive grounds due to his occupational activities has propelled us into considerable anxiety for the right of defense. This situation is unacceptable. In addition, the hasty ratification of the Penal Department No. 9 of the Supreme Court, whose structure and judgements are controversial as already mentioned above, of this decision in the appeal process right before the new assignments made by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, just as they did with many other cases, increases our anxiety. Whereas judiciary cannot be in the hands of any power or structure, and judges cannot act with the inducement of any particular allegiance. In such circumstances, there can be no security of law for anyone.
Therefore, we, on behalf of INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PEOPLE’S LAWYERS as the Board Meeting protest the Turkish government because of this injustice, and stand with the Attorney at Law U?ur YE?ILTEPE and the Bar Association of Tunceli.

International Association Of People’s Lawyers
The Board of Directors