Bianet: The defendant who threatened LGBTIs and his lawyer do not show up in court

Trial began today for Alperen Ocakları Istanbul Provincial Chair Kürşat Mican, who made a call for violence directed at Pride Week participants. Neither Mican nor his lawyer attended the hearing. 

Alperen Ocakları (Alperen Hearths) are a far-right ultranationalist and Islamist youth group linked to the nationalist Great Union Party (BBP).

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Source: Çiçek Tahaoğlu, “LGBTİ’leri Tehdit Eden Sanık da, Avukatı da Mahkemeye Gelmedi,” Bianet, 18 May 2017, http://bianet.org/bianet/lgbti/186590-lgbti-leri-tehdit-eden-sanik-da-avukati-da-mahkemeye-gelmedi

The first hearing of a trial leveled at the Alperen Hearths’ Istanbul Provincial Chair Kürşat Mican for his threatening calls directed at Pride Week participants last year took place in the Kartal Judiciary’s 44th Penal Court.

Defendant in the trial Mican and his lawyer did not attend the hearing, but six people who were Alperen Hearths members and wore BBP badges came to observe the hearing. After six observers from Alperen Hearths entered the courtroom, only six people from [a group of] LGBTI rights advocates were let into the courtroom.

A decision was issued to forcibly bring to court Mican, who did not have justification for not attending the hearing.

Eight lawyers were at the ready for the trial, in which the Istanbul LGBTI Association, the Human Rights Association (IHD) and representatives from community centers joined as complainants.

The next hearing will take place on 5 October at 13:30.

Mican is being tried for the crime of “incitement of animosity and hostility or contempt” (Turkish Penal Code 216 / 1.2).

Defendant who made calls for violence had been tried before for torture

While saying that discrimination against LGBTI individuals was wrong, lawyer Eren Keskin emphasized that in the European Court of Human Rights, the only and most indicative criteria for speech constituting a crime is making calls for violence.

Keskin, while reminding [the court] that the defendant had been tried previously for torturing a person for eight days, demanded that Mican be held pending trial.

While saying that the calls for arrest were rejected at this stage, the court issued a decision to bring Mican to court forcibly for the next session. Mican did not have justification for not attending the hearing.

“A threat not only to LGBTI [individuals], but to all citizens”

Rozerin Seda Kip, one of SPoD LGBTI’s lawyers, requested to intervene in the case. Kip, who emphasized that SPoD [a non-governmental LGBTI organization in Turkey] had 400 LGBTI members, said that they had another file in which they were complainant against the defendant that was in the investigation stage.

Kip, who spoke to Bianet, explained that while the chief judge asked all complainants who gave statements, “Are you LGBTI?” the defendant’s calls were violent and a threat to not only LGBTI [individuals], but to all citizens in the country.

Kip said the following: “We remember the experiences of Pride Week like yesterday. We will pursue this trial. Many of our lawyer friends joined this trial. There will be even more of us in the next hearing.”

What happened?

Last year, prior to the 7th Istanbul Trans Pride March planned for June 19 and the 14th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March planned for June 26, a number of groups such as the Anatolian Muslim Youth and Alperen Hearths spread threatening messages and called for attacks of the marches.

While Alperen Hearths put together a press meeting in Üsküdar on June 14 at 22:30, [their] Istanbul Provincial Chair Kürşat Mican said that if the government did not block the marches, Alperen Hearths would block them as “representatives of the deep nation.”

On June 17, the Istanbul Governorship announced that it would not “give permission” to either one of the marches.

Istanbul LGBTI, the Human Rights Association (IHD), SPoD LGBTI, and the Pride Week Committee alongside individual activists turned to prosecution and filed a criminal complaint about the threats directed at the marches and the Governorship’s decision to ban the marches.

In the criminal charge prepared for Alperen Hearths Istanbul Provincial Chair Kürşat Mican, it is requested that Mican be punished for the crime of “incitement of animosity and hostility or contempt” (Turkish Penal Code 216 / 1.2).

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