The Supreme Court of Appeals has issued a warrant for the arrest of individuals who were released earlier this month under a newly amended article that limits the amount of time that a person whose first-instance or appeals trials are pending can be under arrest after the suspects failed to show at their local police stations for their daily check-ins.
The 9th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals -- which had ruled for the release of the suspects under the new Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK) Article 102 that introduced a maximum period of arrest for people in jail awaiting a final court verdict, which went into force on Jan. 1 -- on Thursday issued arrest warrants for suspects who disappeared after getting out of jail.
In a statement he made on Friday morning, 9th Chamber Deputy President Ekrem Ertuğrul said the court had ruled to re-arrest any suspect who has failed to follow the post-release procedures. The suspects who were released under CMK 102 are also banned from international travel.
In related developments, the Diyarbakır and Batman police on Thursday raided the residential addresses of 12 suspects for whom specific arrest warrants had been issued by the 9th Chamber, but none of them were found at these locations.
Speaking to journalists yesterday at the Supreme Court of Appeals, Ertuğrul said the chamber had made the ruling late on Thursday night at the end of an emergency meeting following a written notice from the Diyarbakır Prosecutor’s Office sent on Jan. 12 informing the high court of the failure of some of the suspects to present themselves at their local police or gendarmerie stations. He said the arrest warrants were issued under CMK Articles 100 and 112.
Nine people including Edip Gümüş, Cemal Tutar, Fuat Balcı, Abdulkerim Kaya, Mustafa İpek and Şeyhmus Kinay -- suspects in the Hizbullah trial who were convicted by a lower court and sentenced to life in prison for killing 188 people but were released under the new law as they had reached the 10-year arrest limit -- as well as three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), have gone missing since their release earlier this month. Ertuğrul yesterday said the Diyarbakır Prosecutor’s Office had been notified of the arrest warrant.
Public anger over releases
The release of the Hizbullah suspects under the new CMK caused a great deal of public anger and concern. Hizbullah higher-ups Gümüş, Mehmet Varol, İpek, Sinan Yakut and Kınay were released from Diyarbakır Prison on Jan. 3. Some other Hizbullah suspects were release from Bolu Prison on the same day.
The Hizbullah suspects were greeted by a large and festive crowd on the day of their release in front of Diyarbakır Prison, which added to public frustration. They are accused of killing 188 people using a brutal method called “the hogtie,” a method also used by the Lebanese and more internationally well-known Hezbullah. The group most often uses “the hogtie” as a method of torture in which the hands are tied behind the back and the feet are tied together, with one end of the rope around the victim’s neck. The tension on the rope around the neck can only be relieved if the victim keeps their neck, back and legs arched; eventually, the victim tires and is strangled. This method often leads to a long-drawn-out and painful death.