The judge of a high criminal court in Turkey has told an academic who was on trial for signing a peace declaration not to say big things when the academic said, “Long live justice!” the Bianet news website reported.
The last hearing in the trial of retired professor Haldun Gülalp was held at the İstanbul 37th High Criminal Court on Wednesday.
Gülalp is one of 1,128 academics who, calling themselves “Academics for Peace,” signed a petition in January 2016 titled “We will not be party to this crime” during a period of heavy fighting in Turkey’s Southeast between the Turkish armed forces and militants affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The number of signatories later exceeded 2,000.
When asked for his final words during Wednesday’s hearing, Gülalp said: “I am asking for my acquittal. Long live justice!”
In response, the presiding judge of the court said, “Don’t say such big things.”
The judge’s remarks have come as confirmation of the weakening trust in the Turkish judiciary, which has been harshly criticized over the past several years for being under the strict control of the government.
Gülalp was given a suspended sentence of 15 months on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda by signing the peace petition.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the petition signatories of disseminating propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.
Many of the academics who signed the petition have been removed from their posts at their universities and faced legal proceedings.