Sociologist Pinar Selek has been sentenced to life imprisonment for a 1998 bombing in Istanbul, even though she had been acquitted three times previously and experts say that there was no bombing but the explosion was an accident caused by a gas leak.
Selek said she was shocked by the verdict when the court convicted her of a supposed bombing in Istanbul's Spice Bazaar in 1998, after being found not guilty of the crime 3 times already: “I am shocked by the verdict; it is the first time the court found me guilty. I have been acquitted three times before. This is a first, tomorrow I will have a press meeting.I know that people won't let me be sacrificed.I want my acquittal back. It is so hard to express what I feel about this scandalous legal situation. It is like asking a woman how she feels after she was subjected to violence but I can tell you how I remain standing after 15 years. There is incredible solidarity with me."
Selek has been living in Strasbourg, France, where she is studying. Along with 30 NGOs and political party representatives from France, human rights activists from Germany, Italy, and Austria attended the court hearing in Istanbul yesterday.
Nearly 150 people held a protest before the trial. Another suspect was also sentenced to life imprisonment. Selek's problems began in 1998 when she was detained while studying the Kurdish issue in Turkey. She refused to name people she had interviewed during her research. She claims to have been tortured while in prison and her research material was confiscated. She was only released after two and a half years in prison.
The chief judge this time ruled that Selek should be released but all other judges found her guilty and imposed the life sentence. From the very first, explosives experts have claimed that there was no bombing at all but that the explosion was caused by a gas leak. A June 2000 report by experts at Istanbul University said: “The prosecutor’s report is not scientific, it is written with an intention to mislead the court. Nitrocellulose can be found in several substances, but it is not proof of the presence of a bomb.”
Another report by a medical faculty also ruled out a bomb explosion saying that the prosecutors' report was unscientific: “None of the evidence matches with injuries inflicted by the explosion of a bomb.” Three experts assigned by the court also declared the explosion was definitely due to a gas leak, not because of a bomb. You would think that would be an end to the matter.
However, after two further acquittals Selek's case was brought before the court again. The judges included a judge who had earlier resisted the acquittal verdict and another who had appealed that verdict. The court was obviously stacked against Selek. Defense objections to the judges on the grounds they were not objective were dismissed.
This trial was a travesty of justice. There should be more publicity to help this brave woman escape the fate rigged up for her by Turkish authorities. The enclosed video was posted in 2011. The noise on the video stops a minute or so from the start. There are many more videos on You Tube but they seem to be all in Turkish.
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