April 26, 2015

Former European Parliament member says Karaca’s case a travesty of justice

Sir Graham Watson, a British politician and former member of the European Parliament, has described the situation of journalist Hidayet Karaca, who was not released by a prosecutor despite a court order, as a "travesty of justice.”

While speaking to Today's Zaman on Sunday, Sir Graham said: "For İstanbul's chief prosecutor not to recognize the court's judgment in the Hidayet Karaca case is a travesty of justice. [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan's new appointees seem more concerned about pleasing their benefactor than with seeing justice done.”

Samanyolu Broadcasting Group head Karaca was detained as part of a major media crackdown on Dec. 14, 2014, just three days before the first anniversary of the massive corruption investigations of Dec. 17 and 25, 2013. The year preceding the major crackdown on the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group and Turkey's best-selling daily Zaman was marked by the Turkish government using all means possible to muzzle the country's remaining free and independent media to prevent questions about corruption.

In the Dec. 14 crackdown, which targeted 27 people, including scriptwriters and a graphic designer, Karaca and three former police chiefs were eventually arrested on charges of leading a terrorist network, while other detainees, including Zaman Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, were later released pending trial.

On Saturday, lawyers representing Karaca announced that an İstanbul court ruled to release their client pending trial, along with dozens of the arrested officers. However, on Sunday, a prosecutor on duty for the weekend defied the court decision and blocked the release of Karaca and the police officers.

The move has raised concerns, causing critics to say the Turkish judicial system has become chaotic and entirely political. Karaca's lawyer, Fikret Duran, told the Cihan news agency that a prosecutor cannot override a judge's decision and that he is set to take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 26 April 2015, Sunday