Friday, September 10, 2010

Lawyer Rişvanoğlu on trial for his thoughts

The former president of the Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD) in Adana, Şiar Rişvanoğlu, is on trial for reading out a press release related to the suspicious death of Metin Alataş, distributor of the Kurdish Azadiya Welat Newspaper. The trial begins on 16 September.

Lawyer Şiar Rişvanoğlu, who is also editorial manager of the Gerçek (Truth) newspaper and the Devrimci Marksizm (Revolutionary Marxism) magazine, he is prosecuted for is thoughts now, after defending many people accused for their 'thought'. Rişvanoğlu was also one of the lawyers of the late Italian journalist, Dino Frisullo, who was arrested and on trial in 1998.

Rişvanoğlu has also been lawyer for writers Temel Demirer, Sibel Özbudun and Sungur Savran. He was also involved in the cases concerned with Turkish-Armenian writer Hrant Dink, Uğur Kaymaz and the Şemdinli bombing, cases that receive a huge public interest.

Rişvanoğlu will be tried at the Special Authority 6th High Criminal Court of Adana (eastern Mediterranean coast) on 16 September. The Adana Lawyers Initiative for Freedom of Thought issued a statement to support Rişvanoğlu. They called all progressive and democratic lawyers and the revolutionary public to support the lawyer's defence.

Charges of "praising crime and a criminal" had previously been pressed against Rişvanoğlu on the grounds of his article entitled "The Kurdish people are on their feet... Listen to their voice" published in the İşçi Mücadelesi (Worker's Struggle) magazine in November 2008. He was acquitted.

Three investigations have been launched into different speeches of Rişvanoğlu, i.e. his utterances in a program on the Kurdish ROJ TV channel, a speech delivered on 21 February at the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Yüreğir District Congress and a press release related to Metin Alataş, distributor of the Kurish daily Azadiya Welat who was found hung in a tree in an orange plantation in Adana in April this year.

Bianet website report that while the investigations into the speech and the press release were dropped, a case was opened with astronomical speed on the grounds of his thoughts voiced in different programs Rişvanoğlu attended on ROJ TV between 1-3 May. The first hearing was scheduled very promptly for 16 September. In the program on 3 May, he said: "A commission has to be required to confidentially investigate all political murders in Kurdistan, all conspiracies, the massacres of the Botaş death wells, mass murders and rapes".

In his defence regarding the investigation, Rişvanoğlu criticized the imprecision of the investigation saying that "hegemonic" was written as "phagomanic", and the terms "socialism", "postmodernist" and "internationalist" were misspelled as well and thus distorted in their meaning. He said that his utterances were taken out of context and that he made a political evaluation.

Prosecutor Mehmet Düzgün stated that Rişvanoğlu referred to the group from Habur (refugees affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK) as "Peace Group" and that he called imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan the "leader of the Kurds". The prosecutor demanded a three count sentence according to Article 220 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) under charges of "spreading propaganda for the PKK or the organization's aims". Rişvanoğlu is facing imprisonment of up to 13.5 years.

Additionally, the Ministry of the Interior opened another case against the lawyer, claiming TL 10,000 (approx. € 5,000) in compensation by reason of "harming honour and dignity with the press release".