Turkish Medical Association Chair Korur-Fincancı to remain under arrest

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The first hearing of the case where Şebnem Korur-Fincancı, the chairperson of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), is facing trial in relation to her remarks on a TV channel on the alleged use of chemical weapons by Türkiye in its cross-border operations was held today (December 23).

The court ruled for the continuation of Korur-Fincancı’s arrest. The next hearing will be held on December 29.

Ahead of the hearing, the second chairperson of the TTB, Ali İhsan Ökten, read out a statement for the press outside of the İstanbul courthouse in Çağlayan.

“We met here today in front of the Çağlayan courthouse in order for an embarrassing period of nearly 2 months that we have been passing through in terms of democracy and law in our country to close, even if slightly,” he said.

“We hope this process will be ended here today”

“The first hearing of the case regarding our central committee chairperson Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, who is still arrested following a decision lacking any legal justification, will soon begin.

“We are here as the Turkish Medical Association together in our organizational integrity with our medical chambers and we are expecting that Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı should be released immediately and acquitted in the first trial.

The group went to the courtroom following the reading out of the press statement.

Limitation on number of lawyers

Doctors and chairpersons of many medical chambers coming from different provinces of Türkiye were not allowed in the courtroom.
At the beginning of the hearing, the Chief Judge rejected the request by Korur-Fincancı’s lawyer to move to a larger courtroom on grounds that there was only one suspect and since a limitation of three lawyers has been enforced.

Then ex-chairperson of İzmir Bar Association Özkan Yücel told the court that the decision by the board was unlawful and that no limit can be enforced on the number of lawyers.

The lawyers present in the courtroom were recorded in the minutes.

When Korur-Fincancı started to talk, the gendarme stood between the lawyers and her, for which another objection was made by the lawyers.

There was another tension when the Chief Judge addressed Korur Fincancı with first person-singular you “sen.”

Korur-Fincancı said, “calling me with “sen” it is apparent what your judgment is about me. I have been brought from Ankara to İstanbul with a ring vehicle and handcuffed. This is a violation of human rights.

“You cannot clear me off my other identities”

“The perception operation when my house was searched was a violation of the presumption of innocence in the first place. When a decision was taken that I would be remanded in custody, the media was informed before my lawyers.”

Korur – Fincancı talked about the indictment and referred to the insufficient medical knowledge of the prosecutor.

“What I made after seeing the videos is an early diagnosis. An independent investigation has to be carried out in order to reach a diagnosis. This is stated in international guides.”

Korur-Fincancı also said, “You cannot clear me off my identities such as being the first person to think of when there are human rights violations. I am not only the chairperson of TTB. I am a forensic medicine expert struggling in the field of violations of rights whose name is known in the world. You are trying to clear me off my such identities on purpose.”

Request by Defense Ministry rejected

After Korur-Fincancı, the Chief Judge stated that the digital data and the report on the examination of social media accounts had been included in the case file.

A request by one of the lawyers in the name of the Ministry of Defense to intervene in the case was rejected since “there was not anyone affected by the crime.”

Korur-Fincancı’s lawyer Gulan Çağın Kaleli, took her turn and spoke.

“All politicians used hate language”

“Şebnem Korur-Fincancı is the first person to go to in the face of such an allegation due to the trust in her scientific knowledge.

“The prosecutor and the court requesting that she be remanded in custody was not able to explain to us which of the statements of Korur-Fincancı fall under the anti-terror law (TMK) article 7/2. Abroad at the time, she has spoken to Medya News for 7 minutes on October 19. One day later the Interior Minister insulted our client and defined her as “the enemy of the country.”

“Detention after Bahçeli’s speech”

“The next day Devlet Bahçeli said, “She has to be arrested. TTB should be closed.” And the next day the President, the judiciary took action against TTB. All politicians have used hate language. On October 25 Bahçeli made gross insults and demanded that Korur-Fincancı’s Turkish citizenship should be revoked.

“Immediately after the speeches by Bahçeli our client was taken into custody. Whereas we had already communicated the date our client would be returning to Türkiye and that she would give her statement whenever requested. But her house was raided in the morning at 6:00 a.m. on October 26. Why was this necessary for the prosecutor?

“Again there was a great perception operation during this detention. And in Ankara, the prosecutor told us that he was ready at 6:00 in the morning. A prosecutor who is in his office to take testimony at 6:00 in the morning cannot say that he is independent.”

“Prosecutor speaking same language with politicians”

“I will talk about the detainment order. The prosecutor has taken the detainment order and made an indictment out of it. The indictment discusses the editorial policy of Medya Haber. There is nothing related to our client in the scope of TMK 7/2.

“And Medya Haber is banned in Türkiye. So it is claimed that what is told there will be heard widely by the public in Türkiye but the channel cannot be accessed from Türkiye. Again, it is stated that the presenter of the program is sought in Türkiye and that he has a criminal record. What does this have to do with our client?

“The prosecutor says ‘not suiting the Turkish identity and the chairperson of TTB,’ he talks the same language with the politicians. There are 143 pages of Medya Haber report. Only 20 pages are related to our client. And in the ANF report, all news on October 20 is included. These are the reports in the file. If the reports in the file are not related to our client, why is she remanded in custody since two months ago?

” 5 words selected from a 7-minute speech”

“The prosecutor requested remanding in custody while there was no evidence for it and you have rejected our objection saying this is a catalog crime. TMK 7/2 is not a catalog crime, TMK 7/3 is.

“The prosecutor selected only 5 words from a 7-minute speech, therefore it is not possible to say that the prosecutor is impartial.
“Which channel one spoke to cannot be subject of trial”

Lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu has also spoken in defense of Korur-Fincancı.

Eyüboğlu said, “It is not important for my client which channel she speaks to as a human rights defender. She herself stated what she has told and why anyhow. It cannot be made the subject of a trial which channel she has spoken to.”

She gave examples from RCtHR rulings.

“We cannot understand what our client is accused of”

Eyüboğlu said, “I do not know how far you watched the speech of my client but she is saying that the images seen give the impression of toxic gas but that an independent delegation should carry out an investigation on site and if there are, on dead bodies in order to understand this. She is indicating an investigation on site, so we do not understand what our client is being accused of.

“Politicians may dislike what our client is saying, you may not like it either, but she is telling these as an expert in her field.”

What does Article 7/2 of the TMK say?

Any person making propaganda for a terrorist organization shall be punished with imprisonment from one to five years. If this crime is committed through means of mass media, the penalty shall be aggravated by one-half. In addition, editors-in-chief who have not participated in the perpetration of the crime shall be punished with a judicial fine from one thousand to fifteen thousand days’ rates. However, the upper limit of this sentence for editors-in-chief is five thousand days’ rates.

What happened?

On October 18, the Fırat News Agency (ANF) released a video clip of two Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members who were allegedly exposed to chemical weapons during Türkiye’s military operations in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

The clip showed a man having a seizure and a woman showing delirious behavior. Both people eventually died because of the exposure, according to the ANF report.

Commenting on the allegations for Medya Haber TV, Korur-Fincancı said, “I have examined the videos. Apparently, toxic gasses that directly [affect] the nervous system have been used,” adding that the claims should be investigated by independent teams.

She was scapegoated after her statements and targeted by the pro-government media.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation against Korur-Fincancı for “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” and “insulting the Turkish nation, the Republic of Türkiye, and the bodies and institutions of the state.”

On October 26, she was taken into custody following a police raid on her house and brought to Ankara. She was arrested by the court on the next day for “making propaganda of a terrorist organization.” (RT/AÖ/PE/VK)

By: Ruken Tuncel


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