26/05/2023 | Writer: Selma Koçak
The prosecutor of the Eryaman-Esat case changed while it was on the final phase of expressing legal opinion. The trial was adjourned to July 5th.
The tenth hearing of the case, in which four people from the gang are being judged on the grounds of assaulting trans women in Ankara, in 2006, was held today (May 25). The case, which has been shuttling between Supreme Court and the other courts for more than 10 years and resulted in a sentence against the attackers, is being heard again following the reversal of the judgment by the Supreme Court.
It is revealed that the prosecutor changed while the case is on the final phase of expressing legal opinion, in the trial held at the Ankara 30th Heavy Penal Court.
The hearing was followed by Ankara Bar Association Women Rights Center, Pink Life Association, May 17 Association, UniKuir Association, lawyers from Youth Approaches in Health Association (Y-PEER Turkey) and LGBTI+ activists.
According to the news coverage of Pink Life Association, “Having waited the trial to begin at 14.00 pm for one hour, we were informed that the prosecutor had changed. The change of the prosecutor in a case, which has been going on for years, when we were so close to the verdict and the prosecutor was about to give his final opinion, has once again left people, whose lives were put off the evil day, alone.”
Even though Senem Doğanoğlu, attorney of trans women, reminded that the case has been on the decision phase in the hearing, the case was postponed once again upon the request of the new prosecutor.
Next trial will be heard on July 5th, 2023, at 14.00 pm.
What happened in the case?
In April 2006, a gang attacked trans women in Eryaman, Ankara. Many trans women were forced to leave their homes in Eryaman. Some of them changed cities, some moved to the Esat District of Ankara. The attacks continued in Esat.
The establishment of the Pink Life Association was an attempt of an organization against these attacks. The trans women who were attacked filed a criminal complaint, charges were pressed. The case that was monitored by lawyers Senem Doğanoglu and Hakan Yıldırım was concluded in 2008. One of the defendants, Şammas Taşdemir, was sentenced to 45 months for wounding with a weapon during a raid on a hairdresser that was frequently used by trans women; The other defendants, Harun Çardak and Ahmet Günay were sentenced to 40 months each, and Ahmet Günay for 34 months for wounding with a weapon against trans women in the Kurtuluş District of Ankara.
The court ruled that the attackers were qualified as gangs, but sentences were all from the lowest limit. There was no sentence for the allegations of pillaging. The verdict was appealed.
Since 2008, the judicial process has turned into a labyrinth. The Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in 2011. In the meanwhile, the courts that handled the case changed. With the Criminal Procedure Code changes, the case went back and forth between the courts. Finally, in 2018, the case went to the Supreme Court of Appeals, again.
Verdict to overturn stated the attackers should be investigated on their gang qualifications and demanded an investigation regarding the phone call records. The 30th High Criminal Court also complied with the Supreme Court of Appeals' decision and asked the Information Technology and Communications Authority (BTK) for information on whether the attackers communicated.
Endless chase of justice: Eryaman-Esat case
The Eryaman-Esat case has become an endless game of chase due to the changes in the judicial system. The attackers were sentenced in 2008 for extortion, wounding, and wounding as part of organizational activity, but were acquitted of looting. The decision included the definition of 'a gang that came together with thoughts triggered by social prejudices'.
Both the attackers and the trans women who were attacked appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court overturned the decision, saying that 'the court has to make a judgment on looting'. The process after the Supreme Court's overturn decision is a complicated story. With the changes in the legislation, the case has been going back and forth between the courts for years. Att. Doğanoğlu explains this process as follows:
“There were courts authorized with Article 250 of the Turkish Penal Code, but they are now removed. Then they said that it was necessary to appeal to the general court, then those established with TPC Article 10 came into force, and it was said that they have the authority. The case went back and forth too many times. At the end of 2018, with a very absurd justification, the case was returned to the 30th High Criminal Court of Ankara. The reason was that a defendant was not notified. They returned the case because they couldn't locate a person's procuration. After all those transfers the case probably is not intact now. After years, we filed the procuration again, and the case was back on the Supreme Court of Appeals. Then the Supreme Court overturned the decision and the trials began from the beginning…”
What happened in Eryaman and Esat?
Senem Doğanoğlu explains the attacks on trans women and their forced migration as follows:
“The reason the case is called Eryaman is that the events took place in Eryaman, but in fact, the case that we're talking about now includes the events that took place in Esat. The construction industry was on the rise in Eryaman, and organized gang attacks against trans women living there began. Over time, the men hired by these construction companies increased attacks on trans women as a gang, in cooperation with the police. After a while, the paramilitary force said, 'you will pay tribute to us'. But the main goal was to exile. Many of the girls fled to Mersin when the attacks on the houses began. Another group settled in Esat.
“We were able to make a case about Şammas Taşdemir in Eryaman. Dilek İnce, who was killed in 2008, was among the complainants. We also monitored a case in which Şammas Taşdemir was tried for property damage. Şammas was sentenced, but it was converted into a fine. He paid. The decision was finalized and over. He was sentenced to a criminal sentence and the motivations of the attackers were not investigated.
“Law enforcement did not take any action for a very long time when the Esat events started simultaneously. It turned into a process where every night someone gets hurt, properties are getting damaged, people were getting threats over phone calls, and that's the time when the shroud demonstrations started. 'If this violence is not prevented we are going on hunger strike,' they said.
“Silent protests began where LGBTI+ organizations and women's organizations participated, and after a while, the police of Çankaya District of Ankara called us. In short, it was a process in which social pressure was very effective, without social pressure, no one would have instructed The Çankaya police on the issue.
“They were assaulting, wounding people. There were raids on hairdressers. Again, damaging vehicles was very common. There were a lot of incidents at night where they get out of their vehicles with machetes on their hands, run onto the girls, and wounding them. We gathered all these incidents together. Complaints were collected from the victims one by one. Then the perpetrators were all picked up. They've been arrested and the trial process has begun.
“The case was first filed in the general court. It was subsequently transferred to the High Criminal Court due to the allegations of looting. Most of the girls came at the first trial and reported their complaints. They talked about the incidents in detail. In the first trial, we explained that it was an organized crime and that they were a gang. We also changed the face of the courthouse at that time. It was important to see the subject there, see a subject seeking their right, and see what was legitimate.”
Tags: human rights, women