Following President Erdoğan’ victory at last weekend’s referendum on presidential powers, Turkish authorities informed the lawyers of imprisoned cartoonist Musa Kart and his Cumhuriyet colleagues that their trial date has been set for July 24th 2017.
The announcement follows the indictment that was issued two weeks ago, some five months after their arrest. Kart is charged with “helping an armed terrorist organization while not being a member” and “abusing trust”, prosecutors stipulating a maximum sentence of twenty-nine years.
Prior to that, on March 6th, lawyers for Musa Kart and colleagues lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that Turkey’s Constitutional Court had not acknowledged receipt of their December 26th appeal against the jailing of their clients pending trial, and that this pretrial detention violated the European Convention on Human Rights’ guarantees of freedom and security, freedom of speech, and limitation of rights.
In addition they stated that the detentions have produced a deterrent effect on those wishing to express their opinion, whilst amounting to judicial misconduct with a political aim.
In response on April 12th the ECHR announced that the application would be given priority status and that the case “will be examined as soon as possible.”
The Kart family released the following statement earlier this week:
“As far as we know, and in accordance with the lawyers who are in contact with the courts, the trial could take place in July. If that is the case it means [Musa] will then have been imprisoned for nine months, the indictment only issued two weeks ago on April 4th, with no concrete evidence. Our father and husband, as he has always said, is not guilty of anything other than drawing cartoons, having been a critic of all those in power, including those he is accused of supporting, as a political cartoonist should be, and as his cartoons clearly show.
Knowing our father and husband as we do, his response to the referendum result would be this; in spite of the oppression that has taken place against opponents, and the unlimited resources [the government] had, the Yes vote succeeded by only 51%, and in fact lost in most of the largest cities. The people have given [the government] a message and hope they will read this message well. From now on all power will be in the hands of one person, one person who will be responsible for all anti-democratic practices too. As a result we may say our burden has increased in the struggle for democracy.”
CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper covered Musa’s story on Monday with contributions from CRNI as well as Prof. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur to the UN on freedom of expression & opinion.
Please note the #FreeTurkeyMedia campaign led by Amnesty International continues all the way to World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd.