13th November, 2023

Day 3 – Trial against Kenan Ayaz: “An originally political trial”

13.11.2023
Trial report from the 3rd day of the main hearing in the proceedings against Kenan Ayaz before the Hamburg Higher Regional Court (report by ANF from 14.11.2023 (https://anfdeutsch.com/aktuelles/prozess-gegen-kenan-ayaz-ein-originar-politisches-verfahren-39804)

Trial against Kenan Ayaz: “An originally political trial”

On November 13th, the trial against Kenan Ayaz (official name: Ayas) under Section 129b of the German Criminal Code continued at Hamburg Higher Regional Court.

Administrative fine imposed on trial observer

Kenan Ayaz has many supporters both in Cyprus and in Germany. A rally was also held before the third day of the trial on Monday, at which a representative of “Defend Kurdistan” called for his release. The Hamburg solidarity service team offered coffee, tea and cookies to the trial observers, some of whom had traveled from outside the city, in front of the criminal justice building.

There was a somewhat absurd intervention by the judges before the trial began, when Kenan Ayaz entered the room and was greeted with applause by the spectators. The chief judge imposed a fine of 150 euros on a Kurdish trial observer for “improper behavior” on the previous day of the trial on November 7th. The person concerned intends to take legal action against the sanction. The judge also reacted unwillingly to the audience in the public hearing and threatened to order ID checks.

Police officer heard as a witness

Two criminal investigators were called as witnesses for the prosecution, one of whom was unable to attend due to illness. The other one, André D., a police officer from the State Police office (LKA) of the City of Bremen, testified today. A few years he had led investigations against the Kurd named Amed or Mustafa Çelik, who had already been convicted twice in Germany for begin a member of the PKK. The background to the questioning is the attempt to classify Kenan Ayaz in the “PKK hierarchy” because he cannot be accused of any other criminal offense. In the case of Çelik, who was sentenced to more than two and a half years in prison at the Hamburg Higher Regional Court in October 2020, the police officer D. could essentially only recall positive findings. For example, he had been a contact person for problems and conflicts in the Kurdish community, he had taken part in a celebration in Bremen to mark the victory over the Islamist terrorist organization IS in Kobanê and had attended a funeral service in Celle for the Yezidi Zekî Şengalî (Ismail Özden) murdered by a Turkish drone in Şengal. But that is not what the federal prosecution is concerned with. The prosecution only wants to prove that Kenan Ayaz was allegedly active as a “regional leader” of the PKK. In the last ten years, dozens of Kurds in Germany have been sentenced to several years in prison under this criterion – leadership of a “PKK area” or “PKK region”.

Motions for evidence by the defense

The fact that the trial against Kenan Ayaz is an “original political trial” was explained by his defense lawyer Antonia von der Behrens in a statement on the intended order for “self-reading proceedings” by the court. In this context, the lawyer also pointed out that the translations of wiretap transcripts are provided with interpretations by the interpreter who worked for the State Police Office of Bremen.

The defense also requested that current media articles be read out as additional justification for the motion to discontinue the proceedings, which had already been filed at the start of the trial. According to Antonia von der Behrens, the motion aims to substantiate the findings relevant to the motion for discontinuation in the context of the reprehensibility test, “that it is not the PKK but Turkey that endangers the peaceful coexistence of peoples, and that Turkey is not a state that protects human dignity”: “From the taking of evidence, the conclusion will have to be drawn that the generally granted authorization to prosecute the PKK, which is the subject of the proceedings, is now being maintained in a manifestly arbitrary manner. Beyond the question of the arbitrariness of the authorization to prosecute, the results of the requested evidence are also relevant insofar as they prove that what Mr. Ayas made in his own justification of the application for discontinuation for the most part in terms of findings and positions is even reflected on the Tagesschau website.”

In summary, the media publications of the last three weeks show “that domestically, the last remnants of the Turkish constitutional state have been dissolved by a judicial coup and thus there is no longer any protection of human dignity and that externally Erdoğan supports the terrorist organization Hamas and stirs up anti-Semitism and that the Turkish regime itself commits acts contrary to international law with terrorist effect, by attacking the YPG/YPJ in Rojava and destroying civilian structures in Rojava as well as deliberately killing civilians”.

Judicial coup in Turkey and Erdoğan’s visit to Berlin

The defense requested the reading of the articles “‘Problems unresolved’ – EU criticizes Turkey for lack of rule of law” by Erkan Pehlivan which was published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau and the article “Justice in Turkey: Attack on the Constitutional Court” by Jürgen Gottschlich published in the newspaper the tageszeitung (taz) as well as another article on the subject from the website of the Turkish newspaper “A Haber”. The defense argued that these articles prove the allegations of a judicial coup.

Also the defense moved to read the “Erdoğan comes to Germany on 17 November” published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). With this article the defense wants to prove the facts that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be received by Steinmeier and Scholz on 17 November 2023, that Erdoğan described the Islamist Hamas as a “liberation organization” after the terrorist attacks on Israel with more than 1,200 dead, that he questioned the right of the state of Israel to exist as recently as November 10, 2023, when he said at a commemorative event in Ankara on the anniversary of the death of the republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk that Israel was trying to “build a state that has only existed for 75 years and whose legitimacy has become questionable due to its own fascism”, that Turkey is an important partner for the German government, that there are close economic relations between the two states, that Turkey has an important bridging function for Germany and the EU, that Turkey plays a central role in the EU’s view in “managing immigration to Europe” and that the talks between Scholz and Erdoğan will also deal with the revival of the EU-Turkey agreement on the accommodation of refugees in Turkey, that the German government has not criticized Erdoğan’s statements and stance on the terrorist Hamas, that from the governing parties only isolated criticism of Erdoğan came from people outside the government, such as from the General Secretary of the coalition party FDP, Bijan Djir-Sarai, who said: “Erdoğan’s permanent hate speech against Israel and his solidarity with the terrorist organization Hamas are intolerable. This must have consequences and must not be ignored by the German government,” and that these consequences have yet to materialize.

Erdoğan’s unheeded war against Rojava

The fifth article requested for reading is the article “Turkey and northern Syria: Erdoğan’s unheeded war” by Anna-Sophie Knake on the public broadcaster and website tagesschau.de, in which the doctor and emergency physician Michael Wilk describes his impressions from Rojava. The application states that, according to Wilk’s assessment, the people in north-eastern Syria have established a self-government with democratic principles in the course of the war, that gender equality, religious freedom and the ban on the death penalty play a central role there, and that there is a “diametrical difference” ideologically between these principles of the self-governing region and the autocratic Erdoğan regime. Wilk describes it as a double standard if, on the one hand, Erdoğan is courted and his hand is extended, even though he is attacking and terrorizing people and forcing thousands to flee, and that the EU then concludes refugee agreements with Erdoğan for precisely these people who have fled. One consequence of these attacks is the resurgence of Islamist militias.

Relevant assessments for the evaluation of the recruitment application

The defense argued that it was also important to read these articles because they show that the stand which Kenan Ayaz took at the last trial date was not that different from what has been published in the cited main stream newspapers. He had written in his statement “Every day it rains bombs on the Kurds who are defending humanity against the Islamic State. Their living space is being destroyed. Kurdish factories, hospitals, dams, schools, prayer houses, electricity and gas stations are being bombed. Millions of people are cut off from water and electricity.” And further: “Yesterday, the Kurds were a force for freedom when they defended humanity against Islamic State fascism. They were a force for dignity. The forces of the coalition fought together. Today, as Erdoğan’s fascism has invaded and is carrying out genocidal attacks, have the Kurds become terrorists? Erdoğan is waging a war of massacre and genocide before the eyes of all humanity. The world is watching in silence.”

Lawyer Antonia von der Behrens points out that this assessment corresponds to the facts and assessments reproduced in the article on tagesschau.de. Kenan Ayaz also stated in his statement that it is precisely the Kurds who offer people in Western Europe relative safety from the Islamic State. This assessment will also result from the reading of the requested articles, “as well as the fact that this relative security can also change if the Kurds in Rojava continue to be systematically left alone with the problem of guarding the former fighters of the Islamic State and at the same time Turkey is given a free hand at least in attacks on Rojava from the air or from border posts,” said the defense lawyer.

Today, the defense filed a motion on behalf of Kenan Ayas to dismiss the panel of three judges because they showed bias against Kenan Ayas.

 

The defense had no choice but to make this extraordinary request because the court showed bias against Kenan Ayas by rejecting the defense’s request. The defense had requested that the newspaper article quoting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement about Kenan Ayas’ trial be considered as evidence and read in court.

 

The well-known German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) had summarized Erdoğan’s remarks in an article published on November 19 as follows: “The visit to the German capital had ‘opened a new chapter in our deep relations,’ Erdoğan said. He expressed his delight at a criminal trial at the Hamburg Higher Regional Court against an alleged official of the Kurdish terrorist group PKK. The man was arrested in Cyprus and extradited to Germany on the initiative of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.” (See the press release of the defense from November 30, 2023).

 

The court rejected the request for the second time, arguing that Erdoğan’s statement had no relation to the case of Kenan Ayas. It was the second time that the defense had asked the court to allow this article to be part of the evidence. The defense had argued that Erdoğan’s statements showed that the extradition and trial of Kenan Ayas was in the interest of Turkey and that Kenan Ayas could be in danger after his release from prison because of the known habit of the Turkish secret service to operate outside of Turkey. In regard to both motions, the Public Prosecutor’s Office did not oppose the request but supported it by stating that there was an obvious connection between the article and the trial.

 

Despite the statement of the prosecution, the judges showed their determination not to deal with the Turkish influence on the trial. The judges have continuously tried to keep anything out of the trial that could indicate the political nature of the extradition request for Kenan Ayas and the charges against him.

 

Now another chamber of the Hamburg Higher Regional Court hast to decide on the motion to dismiss the judges. Until this decision is made, the trial will continue as scheduled.

 

 

Hamburg/Frankfurt/Nicosia, February 6, 2024

 

 

Attorney Antonia von der Behrens, Berlin

Attorney Stephan Kuhn, Frankfurt am Main

Attorney Efstathios C. Efstathiou, Nicosia, Cyprus

 

The FAZ article “Return to Turkey: Erdoğan calls Scholz the ‘other'” from November 19, 2023 can be found here:

https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/rueckkehr-in-die-tuerkei-so-sieht-erdogan-seinen-besuch-in-berlin-19324031.html