News / Middle East

Bombing Case Reopened Against Turkish Writer

Turkish sociologist Pinar Selek talks to the Associated Press during an interview in Istanbul, Turkey, 2001 file photo. Turkish sociologist Pinar Selek talks to the Associated Press during an interview in Istanbul, Turkey, 2001 file photo.
x
Turkish sociologist Pinar Selek talks to the Associated Press during an interview in Istanbul, Turkey, 2001 file photo.
Turkish sociologist Pinar Selek talks to the Associated Press during an interview in Istanbul, Turkey, 2001 file photo.
Dorian Jones
Turkey is facing growing domestic and international pressure over the reopening of a bombing case against writer and sociologist Pinar Selek. The case has become the focal point of ongoing concern over Turkey's judiciary despite a decade of reform.

A video of leading Turkish writers, academics and human rights activists condemning the decision by an Istanbul court to reconsider the acquittal of Pinar Selek. For 14 years, Selek and her supporters campaigned to overturn her conviction for alleged involvement in a fatal bombing at Istanbul's Spice Market in 1998. The court's decision to review her acquittal has caused shock and anger.

Cengiz Aktar is a political scientist at Istanbul's Bahcesehir University.

"This is a legal scandal, a legal farce," said Aktar. "It's totally Kafkaesque, because the same court which has decided about the case and released Pinar Selek, the same court has come back to its own decision and asks for life long sentence. It must be a joke, but a very silly joke."

There has been strong international reaction to the decision, with several members of the European Parliament condemning it and the EU rapporteur on Turkey issuing a statement warning about its implications for the country's EU membership bid.

Supporters of Selek claim she was the victim of a politically motivated prosecution because of her research into the Kurdish rebel group the PKK.  According to Emma Sinclair-Webb of the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch, the case highlights many of the Turkish judiciary's endemic problems during the 1990s and early 2000s.

"It’s a huge miscarriage of justice. The case of a women who is accused on the basis of no evidence, or statements extracted under torture were used to convict Pinar Selek. The evidence of a bombing is completely lacking; there is no forensic evidence that there was even a bombing in the Spice Bazaar back in [19]98," she said.

Selek, who has been acquitted three times and now lives abroad, was released after all of the witnesses for the prosecution retracted their statements, with most of them claiming they had been tortured. Selek also claims she was tortured. Forensic experts say the explosion in the marketplace was caused by a gas canister used by a restaurant there.

Observers says the case is symbolically important in helping Turkey close a chapter of its recent past characterized by human rights abuses and miscarriages of justice. The government claims it has introduced major reforms of the judiciary to end such abuses. But political scientist Cengiz Aktar warns the decision by the court to reopen the case sends a worrying message.

"I think the case gives an idea of the dire state of the judiciary in Turkey; after so many changes, amendments, reforms and still the judiciary is not functioning properly in this country and we will suffer from this in the decades to come," said Aktar.

The Istanbul court is expected to make a final decision on the Selek case in January. The government has refused to comment, saying the judiciary is independent. But observers warn that domestic and international pressure on the government and judiciary is expected to grow ahead of the court ruling.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid