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Writer sentenced to 10 months in prison

(BIANET/IFEX) - Writer Nevin Berktas has been sentenced to imprisonment of 10 months on charges of "propaganda for an illegal organization". The charges are related to her book entitled "Difficult places that challenge the faith: Prison Cells". The book describes resistance in the prison cells where she was incarcerated during the time of the military coup in 1980. Due to a calculation mistake, Berktas was imprisoned five years and seven months longer than the law actually stipulated.

Berktas was arrested on 3 November 2010. She requested that the extra time she served in prison during her last sentence be taken into consideration for the more recent decision, but the court denied her request.

After Berktas' sentencing, her lawyer applied to the Istanbul 14th High Criminal Court, claiming his client had already served the 10 months since she had been kept in prison for an additional five years and seven months in the past. Berktas was imprisoned in November before the case on the deduction was decided. One month later, the court decreed that she "could not claim a deduction". The writer's lawyer appealed to the superior court of the Istanbul 9th High Criminal Court.


BACKGROUND:

Berktas was first convicted after the military coup of 12 September 1980 on charges of membership in the Revolutionary Communist Union of Turkey. She received two prison sentences in 1986 and was in jail for 22 years. She was finally released in 2007.

On 4 Feburary 1981, Berktas was again taken into police custody for alleged membership of an illegal organization. She was released in July the same year. She was arrested again on 25 February 1983 and taken to prison. On 15 May 1986, the Adana 6th Army Corps Command Martial Law Court handed down an 18-year and 10-month prison sentence to her on charges of membership in two different illegal organizations. She remained in prison for about 7.5 years and was then released conditionally on a probation period of 10 years.

Four years later, Berktas was again taken into custody because of alleged membership of an illegal armed organization. The Konya State Security Court sentenced her to six years and eight months behind bars in 1995. The conditional release was reversed and added to the sentence. With these additional five years and 216 days the sentence added up to 12.5 years. She was handed down another prison sentence of three years in 1998 because explosives and weapons had been found when she was arrested.

Lawyer Inayet Aksu reviewed her file after 13 years and realised that his client had served extra time. Aksu applied to the Adana 6th High Criminal Court. He informed the court that the partial amnesty law enforced in 1991 had not been applied to his client. Applying the law, the five-year seven-month sentence handed down to Berktas would be lifted.

Subsequent to the review, the 18-year four-month sentence decreed by the Martial Law Court was mitigated to seven years and six months. The court decided that the sentence served from 1983-1990 was decisive and to deduct five years and seven months from the second crime. Berktas was released from prison six months before her sentence would have expired.

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