An Istanbul court ordered life sentence for sociologist Pinar Selek for their involvement in the 1998 Spice Bazaar explosion, a case that has reopened three times in 14 years. However, Öztürk's sentence was commuted to 12 years and 6 months of prison as he did not previously appeal a former verdict.
The court also issued an arrest warrant for Pinar Selek who is currently in Strasbourg for her PhD in sociology.
The verdict has been reached by a consensus of judges with the objection of Vedat Yılmazabdurrahmanoğlu, the head judge of the case.
On November 22, the court commuted the not-guilty verdict and ordered Pinar Selek to stand trial for life sentence on December 13.
On December 13, the court rejected the recusal proposal made by the defense attorneys, saying that "there is no appearing reason to doubt judges' objectivity". Defense attorney Akın Atalay objected the rejection and said that it violated Crime Prosecution Law Article 31.
Early this morning, roughly 150 people including academicians and lawyer from France gathered on the steps of Istanbul Courthouse to make a press statement. Demonstrators held banners in Turkish and French demanding justice and acquittal for Pinar Selek.
The court session opened at 11:10am where Selek's 50 lawyers formed a crowd in the court room.
The judge delegation included a former judge who resisted the acquittal verdict, as well as another judge who appealed the acquittal verdict.
The court rejected defense attorneys' requests to dismiss the judge council (due to lack objectivity) and restore the acquittal verdict.
In response, defense attorneys rejected to do their defense on the initial charges, saying that "the court ignored them by rejecting their request".
"There is no prosecution procedure left for us to defend our client," Akın Atalay, a defense attorney, said.
Defense attorneys claimed that the initial verdict for acquittal was indeed ultimate. "By overturning their own verdict for acquittal, the judge delegation already showed their color. I am rejecting all these judges," defense attorney Haydar Topal protested.
Following defense attorneys' statements, the court declared a 15 minute intermission.
After the break, the court ordered the final remarks of Maşallah Yağan, who is suspected for involving in the incident as an organization member.
"You have already given your verdict by appealing your own verdict. I am not going to defend myself," Yağan said.
"We already made our final remarks, so did the court," Selek's attorney Bahri Belen said, hinting the previous acquittal verdict. "At this level, it is not in the juridical procedures to do so."
The court ordered a second intermission after which it announced its verdict for Pinar Selek's life sentence. (ÇT/HK/NV)