Turkey: President of Union of Doctors released but sentenced

The president of the Union of Doctors of Turkey (TTB), Sebnem Korur Fincanci, was sentenced on Wednesday January 11 to two years and eight months in prison for “terrorist propagandabut freed from prison by an Istanbul court, Turkish media and NGOs reported.

Sebnem Korur Fincanci was arrested on October 26 for calling for an investigation into accusations of the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army in northern Iraq against fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The 63-year-old doctor had denounced a trial from the start.Politics“. She faced up to seven and a half years in prison.

She is expected to leave Bakirkoy women’s prison in Istanbul today.

“Disinformation campaign”

Trained as a forensic doctor, she was arrested and then detained in Ankara, before being transferred to Istanbul. Accusations of the use of chemical weapons by the Turkish army in northern Iraq, relayed by pro-Kurdish media and opposition politicians, had aroused the ire of the Turkish authorities, who denounced a campaign of “disinformation“.

The PKK is considered an organizationterroristby Ankara and its Western allies. One of Sebnem Korur Fincanci’s lawyers, Meric Eyuboglu, stigmatized before the court an indictment prepared in advance, “even before the first hearing and repeated“Since by the prosecutor, proof according to her”that the rights to a fair trial have been constantly violated“.

A dozen Western countries, including France, the United States and the European Union had sent representatives to the hearing, one of them told AFP.

“A political affair”

Sebnem Korur Fincanci, who appeared for the third time before the High Criminal Court of Istanbul, denounced “a politically motivated case targeting the TTB, democratic values ​​and freedom of expression“.

This is not a legal matter, it is a political matter (which) aims to destroy the TTB, our democratic principles and the will to promote the right of society“, she repeated on Wednesday, according to comments reported on Twitter by the association of lawyers MLSA which followed the trial.

An uncompromising defense

Accusing its judges ofbetray their country and its people for their own benefit“, Sebnem Korur Fincanci quoted the French poet René Char before the court: “Obey your pigs that exist / I submit to my gods that don’t exist / We remain people of inclemency“.

Separate charges were brought by the same prosecutor against the 11 members of the executive committee of the Union of Doctors for “membership in a terrorist organization“. Their trial was adjourned to February 8.

Sebnem Korur Financi had explained during his previous appearances refusing to prepare his defense “because what I did is not a crime and is part of my job as a doctor“. “If I am a terrorist, which terrorist organization am I a member of: the Human Rights Foundation (an NGO based in New York) or Physicians for Human Rights (another NGO)?“, she had launched to the judges.

His arrest at the end of October sparked protests in Istanbul. The NGOs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had repeatedly demanded “acquittal and immediate releaseby Sebnem Korur Fincanci.

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