By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
ISTANBUL — The turmoil that has swept Turkey since the eruption of protests in Gezi Park and Taksim Square seems to have reached the institutions of the judiciary as well. On October 4, the Istanbul court convened to review the case of Dogan Akhanli, a German-Turkish author and human rights activist who had been framed on charges of membership in a subversive political organization and participation in armed robbery and murder.
In 2010, the same Istanbul court had handed down an acquittal, clearing him of all charges. Then, the Appeals Court in Ankara called in Spring 2013 for reversing the acquittal and reopening the case, so the Istanbul court had to decide whether to confirm its earlier ruling or lift the acquittal. That was on July 31, and, as reported in this newspaper (Armenian Mirror-Spectator August 6), the judge declared the court would issue no decision but rather adjourn to October 4. It issued an international arrest warrant against Akhanli, who, it must be stressed, is a German citizen protected by German law. Now, on October 4, in an uncanny repeat performance, the court again adjourned, this time to December 20.
The accused, who monitored the proceedings with friends and associates from his Cologne home, received the news from his lawyers in Istanbul. His comment was that the court had “decided not to decide” but had “decided” to maintain the arrest warrant for him and then to postpone the other “decision.” This, Akhanli noted, only served the purpose of keeping him out of his native land. As he knows from experience, if he were to try to enter Turkey under current circumstances, he would be arrested. That happened to him in August 2010 when he travelled there in hopes of visiting his dying father. He was apprehended at the airport, thrown into jail and kept there for months, and prevented from attending his father’s funeral. Only after his acquittal in December could he visit Turkey again.
For his part, the novelist declared he did not suffer any such pangs of indecision: he had made up his mind that he would assert his freedom from the trial.