Bar Chairman Feyzioğlu says acquittal of Gülen people would be ‘bad news for us’

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (2nd R) shakes hands with Union of Turkish Bar Associations Chairman Metin Feyzioğlu (R) at Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on August 16, 2016. Turkish Presidency / Murat Cetinmuhurdar / Anadolu Agency

Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) Chairman Metin Feyzioğlu has said it would be very bad if people affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement were to be acquitted, Sputnik reported.

“If these dishonest people, these traitors, are acquitted, I swear they will not let us stay as we are today,” said Feyzioğlu in an exclusive interview with RS FM.

“We cannot be with them tomorrow as well because they are traitors.”

Feyzioğlu also said since the new justice system is completely open to political influence, judges and prosecutors cannot release people for fear of being labeled Gülenist and purged themselves.

Recalling that 4,000 judges and prosecutors had been dismissed since a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Feyzioğlu said: “I’m not saying these dismissals are wrong. I don’t know if those purged are honest people.”

Concerning criticism from lawyers for being indifferent to the arrest of lawyers, especially those defending imprisoned educators Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, who have been on a hunger strike to return to their jobs, the TBB chairman said, “No one can expect me to be sympathetic to Nuriye and Semih to the extent of adoption.”

Progressive Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD) President Selçuk Kozağaçlı, who represents Gülmen and Özakça, was arrested by a court on charges of membership in a terrorist organization following interrogation by a prosecutor on Nov. 13.

The ÇHD was shut down by a government decree issued during the ongoing state of emergency following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

According to data compiled by independent monitoring site The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 555 lawyers have been arrested since July 15, 2016 and 1,433 lawyers were under prosecution as of Oct. 27, 2017. Sixty-two lawyers have received lengthy prison sentences thus far. Some of the arrested lawyers were reportedly subjected torture and ill treatment. Fourteen of the detained or arrested lawyers are presidents or former presidents of provincial bar associations.

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