Kurdish deputy questions verdict sentencing university student to life based on secret witness testimony

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Baran Barış Korkmaz

A Kurdish opposition deputy submitted a parliamentary inquiry questioning a recent court verdict sentencing a university student to life based on testimony from a secret witness who failed to describe the suspect in the courtroom, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Baran Barış Korkmaz was arrested two years ago after a secret witness informed the police that Korkmaz had brought a propane cylinder to a house in Tunceli province in order to make a bomb.

After his detention by the police, Korkmaz was later arrested by a court on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Meral Danış Bektaş on Tuesday questioned Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül over the verdict, asking how secret witness testimony could lead to a life sentence.

Secret witnesses in court proceedings have recently drawn harsh criticism from the Turkish opposition since they never appear in trials and their testimonies lead to critical investigations.

In February the Diyarbakır Police Department revealed that an anonymous witness codenamed “Venus” whose testimony led to the detention and imprisonment of scores of people didn’t actually exist.

Abdurrahim Dalmış, who was arrested in 2010 and held in pretrial detention for five years on terrorism charges, was acquitted by a court that announced it had been unable to locate anonymous witnesses who had filed complaints against him.

In the case against American pastor Andrew Brunson in İzmir, a secret witness accused him of having ties to terrorist groups but later retracted the allegations.

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