Case Against Turkish Christians Ongoing Despite Lack of Evidence

Country: Turkey

Date of incident: June 11, 2010

Turkish attorneys now in fourth year of prosecuting two Christians for allegedly slandering Islam; despite the lack of any concrete evidence to support their claims, Turkish courts are continuing prosecution.

A Turkish court’s 11th session in a case of alleged slander by two Christians closed shortly after it opened, due to lack of any progress. Prosecutors have accused Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal, Protestant Christians, of “slandering the Turkish nation and Islam”, but the case is stalled due to lack of evidence. Nevertheless, the two men have been continually summoned to defend themselves since their initial arrest in October 2006. “They are uselessly dragging this out,” said defense lawyer Haydar Polat, after Judge Hayrettin Sevim closed Tuesday’s court hearing. Court-ordered attempts to produce testimony from two purported witnesses have not yielded any evidence, the judge noted. The prosecution brought forth no new evidence that was not presented in the last hearing four months ago, and has yet to provide any evidence other than verbal allegations of the crime, which allegedly took place while the two men were evangelising in Silivri, a town west of Istanbul. The next hearing has been scheduled for October 14th, 2010. “At this point, we are tired of this,” said Tastan. “If they can’t find these so-called witnesses, then the court needs to issue a verdict. After four years, it has become a joke!” Both men say they would like to see the trial brought to a close by the end of the year.