Friends of a woman accused of involvement in a fatal explosion in Istanbul in 1998 criticize a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Appeals' Grand Chamber, which will restart the court trial processes. Sociologist Pınar Selek's supporters say it is clear she is innocent in the explosion case and the recent decision against her was made because of political concerns
Friends of sociologist Pınar Selek, who faces a life sentence following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeals’ Grand Chamber, or YCGK, called for justice at a press conference in Istanbul on Thursday.
Selek was arrested by police two days after the July 9, 1998, explosion at Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar, in which seven people were killed and many injured. Four expert reports said the explosion was caused by a gas leak and there was no evidence of a bomb.
At the press conference, supporter Suzan Karaibrahimoğlu said the process that allows Selek to be tried for a possible life sentence despite twice being acquitted by a court is a political rather than legal move and called for justice to be served.
Selek spent 2.5 years in prison, but was later acquitted when a Court for Serious Crimes in Istanbul determined there was no evidence linking her to the blast based on the penal code’s Article 125, which deals with illegal activities that pose an existential threat to the state.
In a separate trial, however, the court found her guilty under Article 169, which covers the aiding and abetting of a crime ring, on charges of carrying explosive material used to make a bomb and keeping a bomb in her workshop. The court later dropped the charge because of the length of the trial.
“I was working with Pınar [Selek] in the workshop for street children where they claimed that she was hiding the bomb materials,” said Esmeray, an activist and actress who attended the press conference. “I was with her almost 24 hours a day, and if she is guilty of working in that workshop, I am guilty too.”
Esmeray added that it is “ridiculous” to blame Selek for a crime she did not commit.
Deniz Türkali from the sociologist’s support group, the Platform of Still Witnesses, said Selek was acquitted twice in 2006 and 2008 – decisions that were canceled by the 9th Criminal Department of the Supreme Court of Appeals in March 2009. That court demanded a life sentence for Selek.
The public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals objected to the decision of the 9th Criminal Department, but the YCGK denied the objection with a majority-vote decision, opening the way for a new trial in the local court.
According to Karaibrahimoğlu, the case will go to the local court once again due to YCGK’s decision. She added that the future legal procedure is not clear yet.
In an interview with BBC Turkey published on its Web site Feb. 19, Selek said she is tired of the unending trial processes.
Türkali said the legal developments are no longer only against Selek, but also pose a threat to everyone’s social existence. The only reason for accusing Selek in the explosion case is the testimony of Abdülmecit Öztürk, who said he knew Selek and that they made the bomb together, Türkali said, adding that Öztürk later claimed he gave this testimony to the police under torture.
“Öztürk’s acquittal is certain now, but Pınar Selek, who has [made] no testimony about the explosion, faces life imprisonment,” said Türkali. She added that when Selek was arrested on charges of involvement in the explosion, she was not asked anything about the incident and only learned of the charges from televisions in the prison.
Another member of the support platform, Yüksel Selek, said in the press conferenc