« This condemnation is political. It has nothing to do with the law ». Life sentence for Pinar Selek, the Turkish sociologist who took refuge in Nice

In exile in Nice, the Turkish sociologist, falsely accused of a terrorist attack 24 years ago, was acquitted four times by her country’s courts before being sentenced on Tuesday by the Supreme Court.

She is in shock. Stunned. Pinar Selek, the 50-year-old Turkish sociologist and teacher-researcher at Côte d’Azur University, was told by her Turkish lawyers on Tuesday evening that she had been sentenced to life imprisonment for an attack that was not an attack. The sentence was handed down by the Supreme Court 24 years after an explosion in the Istanbul spice market that killed seven people and injured 121.

« This sentence is political. It has nothing to do with the law. I was convicted for my research. A story has been invented to criminalise my conviction », said Pinar Selek, who was contacted by telephone on Wednesday.

At the time, aged 27, the young woman, feminist, writer and anti-militarist, had just carried out research on the Kurdish community.

Imprisoned and tortured to make her give up the names of her Kurdish contacts – which she has always refused to do – she learned in prison that a man she does not know had claimed to have carried out an attack with her on behalf of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party, an armed Kurdish political organisation).

Acquitted four times

Despite four acquittals, the justice system persisted, appeal after appeal. In 2017, the Turkish Court of Cassation, the highest authority, sentenced Pinar Selek to life imprisonment. Since then, there has been no news…

« This judgment is not only unjust and senseless, but also inhumane, insofar as there are numerous expert reports in the case which establish that it was an explosion caused by a gas leak. Not once was my statement taken on this issue. I have not been asked a single question on this subject », she explains in a statement drafted with her lawyers.

« I will fight to the end ».

« The trial was launched solely on the basis of the testimony of Abdülmecit O., who said that we had acted together, but later denied his statement in court because it had been extracted under torture. This person was acquitted with me and his acquittal was final, and an appeal is being sought only against my acquittal. This judgment therefore has nothing to do with the law. As the reasons for the judgment have not yet been published, I cannot comment further. I and we will fight this injustice to the bitter end.

The combative Turkish sociologist is determined to fight to the bitter end. She plans to take her case to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. « I have no choice.


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