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Mother, supporters of killed student leader acquitted of "praising crime" through battle cry at graveside memorial

(BIANET/IFEX) - Thirty years ago, Ertugrul Karakaya, a leader of the Student Representative Council at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) in Ankara, was shot dead by gendarmerie on the university campus.

Last year, his 73-year-old mother, Ayse Karakya, and 19 other people attending a memorial at his graveside in Salihli were charged with "praising a crime and criminal" under Article 215 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The prosecution based its charges on a police record which said that Karakaya had died while "battling against gendarmerie". The slogan "Ertugrul has not died, the struggle continues", which was shouted at the memorial, was thus construed as praise of a crime.

At the court hearing at the Salihli 1st Penal Court on 16 November 2007, Ayse Karakaya and the other 19 defendants were acquitted.

The court hearing was attended by many members of the Izmir branch of the "78ers Initiative", Izmir branch members of the Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP), writer Gönül Ilhan and relatives of Ertugrul Karakaya.

The defendants were represented by lawyers from the Izmir branch of the Modern Lawyers' Association (CHD). One of them, Ömer Kavili, said: "This is a case where the truth has to be found. The trial was prolonged, and by forcing the 74-year-old mother Karakaya and relatives and friends to the hearings, they were in effect being punished. There was no choice for the court but to decree an acquittal."

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