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TURKEY: Last hearing for human rights lawyer Levent Pişkin

Thursday, 29 october 2020

The final hearing of the trial against the human rights lawyer member of the Istanbul Bar Association, Levent Pişkin, will take place on November 18th, 2020.

Levent Pişkin was detained on November 14th, 2016 during a police raid at his home in Istanbul. Some Turkish media have alleged that Levent Piskin served as an intermediary between his client Selahattin Demirtas and the German magazine Der Spiegel for propaganda purposes. The lawyer explained that two journalists from the magazine Der Spiegel had contacted him asking him to send them a letter from Demirtas concerning his conditions of detention. After making a statement to the prosecutor’s office in Bursa, Levent Pişkin was released after three days under judicial supervision.

In April 2017, Levent Pişkin was, along with 11 others, charged by the Bursa public prosecutor with “membership of a terrorist organisation” and “making propaganda for the organisation”. Levent Pişkin is accused of having visited his client Selahattin Demirtaş in prison using his lawyer’s identity card, but also of being a member of a WhatsApp group of the HDP.

At the last hearing of the case in September 2020, the prosecutor reiterated the remarks made in the indictment, asking that lawyer Levent Pişkin be punished for “propaganda in favour of the organisation” and “membership of the organisation” under Article 314/2 of the Turkish Penal Code.  The evidence and statements presented by the defence at the hearings in almost three years of trial are not reflected in the final opinion of the prosecutor.

The OIAD believes that the judicial harassment suffered by Levent Pişkin is related to his legitimate activities as a lawyer.

The OIAD would like to remind the Turkish authorities that under the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990):

“Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions” (Principle No. 18).

“Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics” (Principle No. 16).

Article 6§1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (1950) guarantees the right to a fair trial:

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. […] »

The OIAD therefore urges the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against Levent Pişkin.

The OIAD would like to express its full support to the lawyer Levent Pişkin and will pay particular attention to the hearing on 18 November and its follow-up.