RAPID ACTION NETWORK Appeal | January, 2013

By | January 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm | No comments | Campaigns | Tags: , ,

Turkey: PEN protests life sentence for sociologist Pinar Selek

PEN Canada’s Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) strongly protests the life sentence pronounced on January 24, 2013 against the writer, sociologist and feminist, Piınar Selek. Despite three previous acquittals for her alleged involvement in an explosion in an Istanbul market more than 14 years ago, Selek was retried, in absentia, in December 2012. Detained for two and a half years before being freed pending trial, Selek currently lives abroad. Turkish authorities have now issued a warrant for her arrest.

The explosion at the Istanbul Spice Bazaar led to the deaths of seven people and injured 127 others. Selek was arrested in July 1998, and freed two and a half years later after a team of experts concluded that the explosion had not been caused by a bomb, but by the accidental ignition of a gas cylinder. Despite the findings, the case against Selek and her co-defendants continued. In December 2005 a new trial was ordered. This ended with an acquittal in June 2006.

In March 2009, the Court of Appeals requested a review of the case and reversed the acquittal. This went to consideration, and in May 2009 Selek was acquitted for a second time. In February 2010, the Court of Appeals objected again, and sent the case for review once more. The lower court refused to conduct a review on the grounds that the acquittal was legitimately and fairly given, and in February 2011 it upheld Selek’s acquittal for a third time. However, at a 22 November 2012 hearing, the lower court decided to drop its refusal and proceed with reopening the trial against Selek on grounds that the refusal had been ‘contrary to procedure’. The first hearing of the reopened trial was heard on December 13, 2012 at the Çağlayan Courts of Justice, with all five suspects in the case being tried in absentia.

Commentators believe the renewed prosecution of Selek is linked to her work as a sociologist researching Kurdish issues in the mid-to-late 1990s, and to contact with the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). According to PEN sources, no evidence has been presented that shows Selek to have been a member of the PKK or to have engaged in violent activities. It is widely believed that she is being pursued through the courts as a means of penalising her for legitimate research and commentary. These concerns are intensified by the allegations that Selek, during her imprisonment from 1998-2000, suffered torture under investigation in an attempt to make her confess to the charges.

For more information:
Hürriyet Daily News:  Sociologist Selek Issued Life Time Imprisonment for Alleged Bombing

Bianet: Pinar Selek Receives Life Sentence Again


Please send appeals:

  • Protesting the life sentence served against Pınar Selek on charges of which she has already been acquitted three times for explosion which experts have concluded was a tragic accident and not a terrorist act.
  • Urging that the charges against Selek are dismissed, and that the arrest warrant against her be removed, enabling her to return to Turkey without fear of detention.

Appeals to:
Mr Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizilay
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370
Email: sadullahergin@adalet.gov.tr

His Excellency Tuncay Babali,
Turkish Embassy in Ottawa
197 Wurtemburg Street Ottawa
Ontario K1N 8L9

Photo credit: Amelie Losier


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