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19 July

Prosecutor seeks aggravated life imprisonment for Ali Ünal

Court rules to keep former Zaman columnist Ali Ünal in pretrial detention, adjourns trial until September

Former Zaman columnist Ali Ünal, standing trial on “coup” and “leadership in an armed terrorist organization” charges, appeared before a court in Uşak on 18 July for the fourth hearing of his trial.
 
P24 monitored the hearing at the 2nd High Criminal Court of Uşak.
 
Yeni Akit columnist Nurettin Veren testified against Ünal during the hearing, after which the prosecutor submitted his final opinion.
 
The prosecutor requested that Ünal be sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment for “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” “attempting to abolish the parliament” and “attempting to abolish the government” as per articles 309, 311 and 312 of the Turkish Penal Code, respectively.
 
The prosecutor also requested two additional prison terms for Ünal on charges of “inciting the people to armed rebellion” as per TCK article 313, and for “establishing or leading an armed terrorist organization” as per article 314, which are punishable by up to 20 years and 15 years in prison, respectively.
 
The prosecutor also demanded that Ünal is remanded in prison.
 
In its interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court ruled for the continuation of Ünal’s detention and adjourned the trial until 5 September 2018.
 
Ünal, who has been in pretrial detention since August 2016, addressed the court via the courtroom video-conferencing system SEGBİS from the Buca Prison during the hearing.
 
Yeni Akit columnist Nurettin Veren, who testified via SEGBİS, claimed that Ünal was among top level leaders of what the government bills as “FETÖ,” an acronym for “Fetullahist Terrorist Organization.” Veren said Ünal served as an aide to Fethullah Gülen, whom the government accuses of orchestrating 2016’s failed coup attempt.
 
Responding to Veren’s testimony, Ünal said he rejected all allegations. He said Veren’s claims were baseless and false and added that he has never had secret meetings with Gülen nor taken any orders from him. Ünal also said he was not Gülen’s advisor.
 
Noting that he spoke in nearly 1,000 conferences, all of which were public events, Ünal said that he was standing trial because of his thoughts and ideas. “I only wrote newspaper columns,” Ünal said.
 
Two books written by Ünal were then submitted to the court as evidence against him. Ünal’s lawyer Ayşe Sueda Ünal addressed the court next. She said there was no ban in place for the books in question.
 
“My client’s right to a fair trial is being violated. His name was not mentioned in the main FETÖ indictment,” the lawyer also said.
 
Noting that most of the defendants in the main Zaman trial in Istanbul, which concluded on 6 July, have been released, the lawyer then called on the court to take this into account in their judgment concerning Ünal’s case.
 
The lawyer also added that witnesses should be heard in the courtroom and that failing to observe this rule constituted a violation of the right to a fair trial.
 
The prosecutor then submitted his final opinion of the case, seeking aggravated life imprisonment for Ünal on the charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” “attempting to overthrow the parliament” and “attempting to overthrow the government” and additional prison terms on charges of “inciting the people to armed rebellion” and “establishing or leading an armed terrorist organization.”
 
Responding to the prosecutor’s final opinion, Ali Ünal told the court that he rejected the accusations and said the case file did not include even one evidence to prove the allegations. Ünal and his lawyer requested additional time to prepare the final defense statement in response to the prosecutor’s final opinion.
 
The court then adjourned the trial until 5 September 2018.

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