Turkish sociologist appeals life sentence

Turkish scholar and sociologist appeals against a life sentence over Istanbul bazaar explosion that killed seven people and injured over 100 in 1998

Turkish scholar and sociologist appeals against a life sentence over Istanbul bazaar explosion that killed seven people and injured over 100 in 1998

ANKARA – An appeal by Turkish sociologist and author, Pinar Selek against life imprisonment for the deaths of seven people in an explosion in an Istanbul bazaar 16 years ago, is beginning at Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeal in Ankara. 

Selek was arrested in 1998 but released two years later when a team of forensic experts concluded the blast at Istanbul’s spice bazaar, which killed seven people and injured at least 100 others, had been caused by an accidental gas leak.

She has since been tried and acquitted of all charges on three occasions. Her most recent acquittal was amended in November 2012 by an Istanbul court, which sentenced her to life in prison in January last year.

Her case has attracted a large amount of international attention and a group of supporters from both Turkey and France gathered outside the court holding banners read "Justice for Pelin Selek!"

Selek’s Luxembourg-based attorney, Camille Bal, told Anadolu Agency that the case would also be taken to the European Court of Human Rights and Turkey’s Constitutional Court if the high court of appeal revokes Selek’s appeal.

Selek who is currently pursuing doctoral studies in political science at the University of Strasbourg, is anxious about the trial and wants to be free of the charges so she can return to her family and friends in Turkey said Bal.

"She wants to return to her old life," Bal said. "She wants to have all her rights."

Turkish defense attorney, Akin Atalay, told the judge in a small and packed courtroom that it has not been proven whether a bomb caused the blast.

Selek is known for her work on the rights of vulnerable communities in Turkey, including women, the poor and Kurdish communities.

The verdict will be announced June 11.

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