Professor Büşra Ersanlı, who was arrested in November on terrorism charges as part of an investigation into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), was released pending trial on Friday along with 15 other suspects in the case.
Several defendants in the case appealed the İstanbul 15th High Criminal Court recently in an attempt to benefit from a law inserted in a newly approved judicial reform package, requesting their release from prison pending trial. They argued that the newly approved reform package allows for them to spend the remainder of the trial outside of prison. The court accepted their request on Friday, ruling in favor of the release of 16 suspects.
Ersanlı, along with publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, was arrested in November on terrorism charges as part of an investigation into the KCK, an umbrella group that allegedly encompasses the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and affiliated organizations. Zarakolu was released pending trial in April.
Ersanlı, who was a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP) constitutional commission, faces up to 22-and-a-half years in jail on charges of leading a terrorist organization. In a recent interview, Ersanlı denied the charges and said all her activities were within the limits of freedom of expression and freedom of association.
The KCK is accused of attempting to establish an alternative system of governance and terrorizing locals in the country's predominantly Kurdish areas. Most of the accused face charges of membership in and/or aiding and abetting a terrorist group.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recently voiced concern over Ersanlı's arrest and said while he “does not believe Ersanlı is a terrorist,” he does not have the right to interfere in the judiciary. “Ms. Ersanlı is an academic who demonstrated a very democratic stance during [the military coup of] Feb. 28, . I don't believe she is a terrorist, but the fact that I have this view, as a minister, does not grant me the right to interfere in the judicial process,” Davutoğlu said.
In the meantime, a Diyarbakır court on Friday rejected an indictment prepared regarding the probe into the KCK citing lack of authority due to the recently approved law. The court rejected the indictment according to the same law included in the third judicial reform package.
Among other things, the law curtails the powers of specially authorized courts dealing with coup and terror cases, abolishing and replacing them with regional terrorism courts.
The Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court, which used to hear the major trials such as the KCK main trial, unsolved murders and Hizbullah when it had the title of a specially authorized court, rejected the indictment prepared into 28 individuals who were recently jailed as part of the KCK probe because it lacks the authority to hear the case as it has been stripped of its special powers.
Prosecutor Levent Kaya who prepared the indictment, is expected to submit the document to the regional high criminal courts that will replace specially authorized courts.