Murat Arslan, president of the now-dissolved Judges and Prosecutors Association (YARSAV), was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday on charges of membership in a “terrorist organization,” in reference to the faith-based Gülen movement.
The Ankara 25th High Criminal Court handed down the verdict despite a request made by Arslan’s lawyers for removal of the judge, citing the lack of independence of the court. The prosecutor objected to the request, and the court continued to hear the trial, prompting the defense lawyers to walk out of the courtroom.
Arslan was put under arrest in October 2016 as part of an investigation into the faith-based Gülen movement after being dismissed from his post at the Court of Accounts in July 2016.
He was awarded the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2017 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
YARSAV, which used to be a member of the European-based Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés (MEDEL), was among the thousands of institutions closed down by the government in the first state of emergency decree issued in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in July 2016.
The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuse the Gülen movement, which they label as a terrorist organization, of being behind the failed coup, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.