Charged with “knowingly and willingly aiding a terrorist organization while not being included in its hierarchical structure”, owner of Sözcü newspaper Burak Akbay, its İzmir reporter Gökmen Ulu, accounting personnel Yonca Yücekaleli, former managing director of the website Mediha Olgun, Editor-in-Chief Metin Yılmaz, columnists Emin Çölaşan and Necati Doğru, Editor-in-Chief of the website Mustafa Çetin and its Coordinator Yücel Arı had their 11th hearing at the 37th Heavy Penal Court today (December 27).
Announcing its verdict, the court board has ruled that Emin Çölaşan and Necati Doğru shall be sentenced to 3 years, 6 months, 15 days; Mustafa Çetin and Metin Yılmaz to 3 years, 4 months; Yücel Arı, Gökmen Ulu and Yonca Yücekaleli to 2 years, 1 month in prison on the offense charged.
While Mediha Olgun has been acquitted as “it has been determined that the offense charged was not committed by the defendant”, the case file of Burak Akbay has been separated from the others on the grounds that “his defense has been taken and the execution of his warrant should be awaited.”
Requests for acquittal
Wile Çölaşan and Ulu attended today’s hearing via Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBİS), the other defendants were present at court.
The prosecutor reiterated the opinion as to the accusations that he previously expressed. Indicating that he would announce his verdict in the hearing, Presiding Judge Akın Gürlek asked defendants their last words.
While Emin Çölaşan said, “It is an empty case that was filed against us. There are neither any documents nor any witnesses against us. To cut it short, I request my acquittal”, Metin Yılmaz indicated, “We made the necessary statements in other hearings. I said that it was a journalistic activity. I request my acquittal. I resort to justice.”
Gökmen Ulu said, “The unfounded allegations against us have been disproven. We are aggrieved by unlawful charges. I demand that justice prevail as soon as possible and request my acquittal.”
Lastly, while defendant Mediha Olgun said, “I request my acquittal. It has tired me a lot to be in this case. It is impossible for me to support any pro-coup mindset”, Necati Doğru stated, “There is no concrete document that proves the allegation of knowingly and willingly aiding the FETÖ against me. It is not possible for us to be together with exploiters of religion and Allah.”
An operation was conducted against Sözcü newspaper on May 19, 2016. A warrant was issued against Burak Akbay, Mediha Olgun, Bekir Gökmen Ulu and Yonca Yücekaleli as part of an investigation launched into the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY)”, which was later held responsible for the coup attempt on July 15.
Held in custody for seven days, Ulu and Olgun were arrested and Yücekaleli was released. Olgun was released on probation on September 22 and Ulu was released on November 8.
The indictment filed against the workers and executives of the newspaper charged them with “leading an armed terrorist organization”, “propagandizing for an armed terrorist organization” and “knowingly and willingly aiding the organization while not being included in its hierarchical structure.” (TP/SD)