(Sorry for the delay--it's been a frantic two weeks, Days 1-3 are in previous posts for those just joining in)
|Boy selling water at the courthouse---it is HOT|
Day 4, July 12th
We woke early and arrived at the courthouse wondering if we would even be allowed in after being kicked out on Tuesday. To our surprise, we were waved through all the security checks without the usual searches while some thirty or so defense lawyers were stopped at the X-Ray machines. There were soldiers everywhere. Once we passed through the X-Ray, we were met by a wall of commandos who glared as we gathered our things from the plastic tubs. They did nothing to stop us, and apparently were there for effect. They were there every day from then on until the end.
There were only three defense lawyers inside the courtroom. When the suspects filed in, Mamoste asked ‘How many today?’ and we held up five fingers. His brother had joined us—though he sat distraught through the whole proceedings as if watching a funeral.
As soon as the judge entered, one of the lawyers stood and began making a spirited protest.
‘Our colleagues have been locked out of the courtroom because they refuse to surrender their cell phones!’
‘All the visitors must follow the rules!’ the judge replied tartly.
‘We are not visitors! We are the defense team. We require cell phones to perform our jobs, as you well know. They are also demanding , again, that we wear name tags. I have never had to wear a name tag in any other courtroom before!’
The arguing went back and forth. The observers were getting restless—this was insane, but at the same time, no one wanted to be kicked out like we were on Tuesday.
‘The security chief takes care of these matters!’ the judge shrieked. ‘Why won’t you drop this matter? I don’t understand it!’
‘You are the presiding judge here!’ the lawyer quipped back. ‘You control the proceedings of this courtroom, or don’t you?’
Suddenly, the lawyers came into the courtroom angrily pulling on their judicial robes. As soon as they took their seats, a line of commandos marched in and took positions between the lawyers and the suspects. As they had done with us on Tuesday, they raised their riot shields and put their hands on their truncheons.
There were titters of laughter in the audience of observers. The judge was clearly flexing his muscles for everyone. (Although I put it much more crudely,and I think, more accurately when I whispered under my breath to my wife that Judge Ali Açlık had basically taken his dick out of his pants and waved it around in front of the laywers) Was this seriously how an official of the court behaved?
I’d like to take a moment to reflect on Judge Ali Alçık. He is a small, pear-shaped man with a balding pate. He is dwarfed by the enormous judicial bench at which he sits with two assistant judges. His high, whiny voice makes him sound like one of my younger students yelling at me in the classroom after he’s gotten into trouble. ‘But it’s not fair!’ He radiates such a sense of powerlessness. Okay admittedly I don’t particular want to find anything positive in his character, of course, but this impression of ineffectuality is not a mere product of my antipathy--it never leaves me throughout the whole trial, no matter how much military muscle he flexes. It’s like he is completely unsure of how much power he actually has and therefore feels the need to demonstrate it with force whenever he feels challenged—then quickly withdraws in case he’s gone too far. I compared him to a student earlier—that’s not accurate really. He is more like one of those weak-willed teachers that can’t control his class and so constantly shouts hysterically at them and delivering absurdly harsh punishments to make up for his lack of real authority. My impression is--he is a conduit for whatever is coming down from above, but unclear about what they want. The refusal to admit testimony in Kurdish, to strike down anonymous hearsay as evidence, to accomodate the defense in any way, is a petty show of bureaucratic power typical of middle managers.
Come to find out, unfortunately for us, Judge Alçık was a stand-in judge in the Balyoz case (see here), and is the subject of a few formal complaints by defense lawyers who say that he witheld critical evidence from the defense team in that political show trial. Some CD’s found in the ‘terrorists’ briefcase and cited as evidence were never handed over to the defense to investigate because they contained ‘sensitive information’. Copies were eventually given but with the crucial images that they needed to evaluate in the first place, erased. And how about the person who evaluated the complaints against him? Why, Judge Ali Alçık of course.
I found a Facebook- like page (here) that belongs to him in which he waxes romantic about his favorite hobbies—photography, reading, and, get this, surfing the net. Other faves include 4 X 4’s, cats, and classical music. He even kept a blog back in 2007 which he mostly used to put up a few of his favorite poems. His favorite writers include Mehmet Aksoy—the author of the national anthem and Necip Fazıl. Fazıl was a nationalist writer who proposed (after rejecting his early Kemalism) the idea of Islam as a replacement ideology for capitalism and communism. He denounced all of his earlier writings (his Republican phase) as contrary to Sharia and published a journal called Büyük Doğu that introduced Islam as a political movement in opposition to those of the west. (see here, from page 203). Not surprisingly, he these are the same two authors listed among F. Gülen's cherished influences on his website (here).
No wonder, I suppose, that he is Alçın’s favorite and that Alçın works for the AKP (or the Gulenists, who can tell?)