The Cologne Adil Demirci has rejected all terrorist charges against him during the first trial day in Turkey. „I have no connection to illegal organizations,“ he says on Tuesday at the 25th Criminal Court in Istanbul’s Caglayan district.
He works in Germany as a social worker and makes translations from Turkish into English and German. The trial, in which 22 other defendants stand in court along with Demirci, continues until late in the evening. For five of the defendants sitting in custody, the prosecutor demands in the evening „conditional release“ – but not for Demirci. Whether the three judges would make a decision that same evening remained unclear.
Demirci (32), who according to court records has both German and Turkish nationality, was imprisoned in Istanbul during the holiday in April. The prosecution accuses Demirci, who has also written for the left news agency Etha, including membership in the left-wing Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. The MLCP is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey.
He alleged that he had participated in three funerals and a memorial service on charges of „taking part in MLCP“ in 2013-16 in „illicit demonstrations with Molotov cocktails“. It was about people who had fought (in Syria) against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS). Thousands participated in these celebrations. He did not see any weapons. His lawyer told the German Press Agency that Demirci happened to be involved in one of the events. He visited the others in the course of his journalistic work for Etha.
In court, the lawyer said his client did not commit a crime and demanded Demirci’s release from custody.
The trial against Demirci is the third against German citizens for „terror charges“ within a short time. The two most recent trials against Patrick K. from Gießen and a singer with the stage name Hozan Cane from Cologne, ended in late October and mid-November in prison terms of more than six years.
Last year, a series of arrests of German citizens led to a serious crisis between Berlin and Ankara. At that time, only a few Germans were convicted. Instead, since the end of 2017, several prominent prisoners of conscience – including „Welt“ reporter Deniz Yücel, human rights activist Peter Steudtner and journalist and translator Mesale Tolu – have been released and allowed to leave.
This is considered by the observers before the recent convictions initially as a sign of the concession of the Turkish government, which wants to improve the tense relations with Germany. German politicians emphasize, however, that there can be no „normalization“ as long as Germans are still in prison «for political reasons». The Federal Foreign Office currently has five victims.
Many observers from Germany were present in the courtroom. Among them were Consul General Michael Reiffenstuel, the activist and author Günter Wallraff, the Left MP Heike Hänsel and the SPD Bundestag member Rolf Mützenich.
Heike Hänsel said the outcome of the trial was open to them. The indictment of Adil Demirci was „constructed similar to that against Mesale Tolu“, which was allowed to leave for Germany in late summer – the release from custody was thus possible. On the other hand, there have recently been „harsh punishments“ against Germans. Mützenich said it was a „politically motivated trial“ and criticized the „long detention“.