Journalist Şahin Requested Recusal of Judge
Star newspaper employees Sarp, Akbıyık and Şahin are facing up to three years imprisonment each because of their criticism of the mass releases regarding the "Sledgehammer" investigation. The coming hearing is scheduled for 22 October.
Star newspaper reporter Helin Şahin is prosecuted together with the daily's editor-in-chief, İbrahim Sarp, and the editor of the paper's website, Saffet Serdar Akbıyık, on the grounds of the criticism of a mass release regarding the "Sledgehammer" case voiced in a news item. The first hearing of the case was held before the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court on 8 October.
Şahin requested the recusal of the appointed judge because he told the journalist "I will turn you in" in the course of a trial regarding another news.
Şahin is indicted under charges of "identifying official on anti-terror duties as targets" according to Article 6/1 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) by reason of the news on subject.
Newspaper employees Akbıyık and Sarp dismissed the charges pressed against them. Chief Editor Sarp stated, "The news did not contain any defamation, lies or identifying anybody as a target".
Journalist Şahin requested the recusal of the judge at the beginning of his defence. He explained that he had a discussion with judge Erkan Canak in a case related to a news item published on 18 June 2010. Canak chaired the court board and supposedly threatened Şahin by saying, "I will turn you in". Şahin expressed his concern that the judge would not be able to be objective in this case due to the personal problems between them. After a brief intermission, Court President Canak announced to adjourn the case until 22 October to evaluate Şahin's demand.
Şahin argued, "It is embarrassing to be in the dock at a court where I was working myself for two years, following the prosecution of the Ergenekon defendants. Everybody was very surprised to hear that I am tried because of an alleged opposition to the Anti-Terror Law. Finding myself at a court dealing with terrorism when I was just fulfilling my duty as a journalist exceeds all imagination as well as the fact that I am facing a judge who threatened me. Anyhow, I have to defend myself nevertheless and so I did".
The "Sledgehammer" ('Balyoz') coup plan was plotted by a group of people within the armed forces in 2002/03. It was aimed at creating disorder in the country by bombing mosques, crashing a Turkish jet plane and warplanes flying over the parliament, which should eventually lead to martial law and a coup. (EÖ/VK)
İstanbul - BIA News Center
12 October 2010, Tuesday