Outgoing bar association chairman admits Gülen followers were refused counsel

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The Istanbul Bar Association has turned down sympathizers of the Gülen movement who requested lawyers to represent them in post-coup trials, the organization’s outgoing president, Ümit Kocasakal, said on Saturday.

In a speech during a general assembly meeting, Kocasakal admitted that the association has refused to represent people who face legal action as part of a relentless government crackdown against the movement.

According to the Aydınlık daily’s now-removed article, the association told Gülen-linked people seeking lawyers: “Do you think we are silly?”

Several tips submitted to Turkey Purge in the recent past have confirmed that lawyers are not willing to defend people who have been imprisoned over alleged links to the movement, fearing retribution from the government.

We always stand up for republican [values], Atatürk, the unitary state and total independence,” Kocasakal stated.

In earlier remarks, Kocasakal welcomed the government fight against the Gülen movement.

The government accuses the movement of masterminding a July 15 coup attempt while the latter denies any involvement. Some 34,000 people have been arrested and 72,000 detained so far over their alleged links to the movement. Among them are hundreds of lawyers, judges and prosecutors.

Meanwhile, lawyer Mehmet Durakoğlu was elected as the new chairman of the Istanbul Bar Association, garnering 54 percent of the votes in an election held on the second day of the general assembly on Sunday. (Turkey Purge)

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