Back to top

Lawyer Engin Gökoğlu tortured in prison

Status: 
Released & re-arrested
About the situation

On 30 October 2017, lawyer and human rights defender Engin Gökoğlu, was subjected to torture by prison officers in Tekirdag No. 2 T-type Prison. On 20 September 2017, 14 lawyers from the People’s Law Office, including Engin Gökoğlu, were accused of having ties to the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKP-C), recognised as a terrorist organisation in Turkey. They have been in police custody since 12 September 2017.

About Engin Gökoğlu

engin_gokoglu.jpgEngin Gökoğlu is a human rights lawyer from the People’s Law Office in Turkey, an organisation which represents the victims of police violence and other human rights violations carried out by state officials. Engin Gökoğlu is a legal representative of Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça, two educators dismissed from their positions following the failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016.

18 September 2018
People’s Law Office lawyers re-arrested

Between 15 and 17 September 2018, six lawyers from People’s Law Office were re-arrested following a decision by Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court. On 14 September, after a full week of hearings, the Court ordered the release of all 17 detained lawyers from People’s Law Office, who had been in detention since 2017. They were released the following morning. The Court then ordered the re-arrest of 12 lawyers less than 24 hours after its previous decision, after the prosecutor had contested the Court’s decision. The Court confirmed the release of the remaining five lawyers, namely Yaprak Türkmen, Yağmur Ereren Evin, Didem Baydar Ünsal, Ayşegül Çağatay and Zehra Özdemir.

Between September and December 2017, 17 human rights lawyers from the People’s Law Office were arrested following orders from the Istanbul Criminal Peace Judge. A total of 20 lawyers from People’s Law Office faced charges and 17 of them were kept in pre-trial detention in seven different prisons, far from their families and their places of residence. 17 lawyers were accused of transmitting instructions from the DHKP-C’s (the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party) executive team to its members, while three of them were charged with “being managers of an armed terrorist organisation”. The Turkish government considers the DHKP-C a terrorist organisation.

On 10 September 2018, the hearing for the People’s Law Office case began, and the lawyers facing charges were heard before the Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court over the week. On 14 September, the Court ordered the release of all 17 of the detained lawyers, and they were released early the following morning. After the prosecutor contested the decision, the Court reconsidered and ordered the re-arrest of 12 of the recently released lawyers on the same charges.

Five of them, namely Engin Gökoğlu, Aycan Çelik, Aytaç Ünsal, Behiç Aşçı and Ahmet Mandacı, were detained on the same day. On 16 September, they were brought to the Istanbul Courthouse to give their statements on the arrest order and were arrested following the hearing. During the hearing, approximately 20 police officers from the anti-terror branch were present in the court room. The lawyers’ request to remove the police officers from the court room was denied. The police officers in question had conducted the investigation against the lawyers and were involved in reported ill-treatment of the lawyers.

Selçuk Kozaçağlı, one of the lawyers ordered to be re-arrested, was detained on 16 September and brought to the Istanbul Courthouse on 17 September to give his statement. He was heard by a different judge than the chief justice who is in charge of the case and had previously ordered their release. After a 10 minute long hearing, Selçuk Kozağaçlı was arrested. To date, six lawyers from the People’s Law Office have been re-arrested, and the re-arrest orders for six other lawyers are still pending.

7 September 2018
Detained lawyers to attend hearings scheduled between 10 and 14 September

On 5 September 2018, Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court ruled to allow all detained lawyers from the People’s Law Office to attend their hearings in person between 10 and 14 September 2018. The Court’s ruling followed the detained lawyers’ starting of a hunger strike on 3 September in protest against the Court’s initial decision to hear the majority of the lawyers through video call.

Between September and December 2017, 17 human rights lawyers from the People’s Law Office were arrested following orders from the Istanbul Criminal Peace Judge. 17 of the 20 lawyers facing charges remain in pre-trial detention in seven different prisons, far from their families and their places of residence. 17 lawyers were accused of transmitting instructions from the DHKP-C’s executive team to its members, while three of them were charged with “being managers of an armed terrorist organisation”. The DHKP-C (the revolutionary people’s liberation party) is considered as a terrorist organisation in Turkey.

After the defenders had spent up to a year in detention, Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court had stated that it would hear the majority of the detained lawyers through video call. Only Yaprak Türkmen and Selçuk Kozağaçlı, who have been detained in İstanbul Silivri Prison since their arrest, were to be personally brought to the courtroom for the hearings. The detained lawyers refused to participate in the hearings through video call, and appealed the Court’s decision. However, the Court refused their appeal to be heard in person on such grounds as travel costs, the length of the journeys and security concerns during travel from different prisons to the courtroom. On 3 September 2018, detained lawyers of People’s Law Office began a hunger strike in protest against the Court’s decision, and two days after, on 5 September, the Court ruled to hear all the detained lawyers personally during the hearings. The hearings are due to begin at 10 a.m. on 10 September 2018 at Bakırköy Courthouse, and are scheduled to conclude on 14 September.

One of the charged lawyers, who is not in detention, stated in an interview with the online newspaper Bianet that the Court’s original decision would have violated the right to fair trial because the detained lawyers would not have the possibility to directly examine the evidence brought against them and consult with their lawyers during the hearings. She underlined that the video call system isolates suspects from the proceedings, that suspects can only see the courtroom during their testimony, and that courts continue hearings in many cases even if the suspect is unable to hear or see anything due to connection issues.

29 June 2018
Hearings scheduled for September

On 11 April 2018, Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment against 20 lawyers from the People’s Law Office. The indictment claims that the People’s Law Office is a sub-structure of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKP-C), which has been designated a terrorist organization in Turkey. The hearings have been scheduled for between 10 and 15 September 2018.

Between September and December 2017, 17 human rights lawyers from the People’s Law Office were arrested following orders from the Istanbul Peace Criminal Judge. Selçuk Kozağaçlı, Ebru Timtik, Didem Baydar Ünsal, Ahmet Mandacı, Aycan Çiçek, Ayşegül Çağatay, Aytaç Ünsal, Behiç Aşçı, Engin Gökoğlu, Ezgi Çakır, Günay Dağ, Naciye Demir, Süleyman Gökten, Şükriye Erden, Yağmur Erener Evin, Yaprak Türkmen and Zehra Özdemir were accused of transmitting instructions from the DHKP-C’s executive team to its members, while Oya Aslan, Barkın Timtik and Özgür Yılmaz, were charged with “being managers of an armed terrorist organization”. 17 of the 20 lawyers facing charges remain in pre-trial detention in a number of different prisons, far from their families and their places of residence.

Since September 2017, People’s Law Office has been raided by the police three times, on 12 September 2017, 18 December 2017 and 20 April 2018. A lawyer from the People’s Law Office stated that on 20 April 2018 the police entered into all 11 flats in the same building which did not belong to People’s Law Office and broke some of their neighbors’ doors.

Following almost a year of detention, the court will hear the majority of the detained lawyers through video call. Only Yaprak Türkmen and Selçuk Kozağaçlı, who have been detained in İstanbul Silivri Prison, will be personally brought to the court room for the hearings. One of the detained lawyers, Ahmet Mandacı, criticized in a letter to the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet that they would be questioned by video call rather than appearing before the judge. He further stated that he was not notified about the indictment although other lawyers in detention had been. On 20 September 2017, Ahmet Mandacı had been released under judicial control, but 10 days later he was arrested at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office.

A trainee lawyer who was arrested with the lawyers from the People’s Law Office, also sent a letter to Cumhuriyet and stated that the prison administration had banned him from any visitors for 100 months as he was protesting he and his fellow lawyers’ isolation. He also stated that he wrote several petitions to the Ministry of Justice, administration of Silivri Prison, Prosecutor’s Office and several courts to contest the solitary confinement of Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Yaprak Türkmen but the authorities responded that it was not under their authority. He further stated that while he had written letters to Selçuk Kozağaçlı the letters had not been given to him. Selçuk Kozağaçlı and Yaprak Türkmen have been kept in solitary confinement in İstanbul Silivri Prison since their arrest in September 2017.

30 March 2018
Indictment against lawyers from the People’s Law Office complete

On 27 March 2018, the indictment against the twenty lawyers arrested on  from the People’s Law Office was completed by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s Terror and Organised Crime Investigation Bureau Prosecution Office and sent to Istanbul’s 37th High Criminal Court.

The indictment claims that the People’s Law Office is a sub-structure of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKP-C), which is considered a terrorist organisation in Turkey. The indictment further claims that the People’s Law Office was established on the back of instructions from the senior executive board of the DHKP-C, known as the Central Committee.

The lawyers Selçuk Kozağaçlı, Ebru Timtik, Didem Baydar Ünsal, Ahmet Mandacı, Aycan Çiçek, Ayşegül Çağatay, Aytaç Ünsal, Behiç Aşçı, Engin Gökoğlu, Ezgi Çakır, Günay Dağ, Naciye Demir, Süleyman Gökten, Şükriye Erden, Yağmur Erener Evin, Yaprak Türkmen and Zehra Özdemir are accused of transmitting instructions from the DHKP-C’s executive team to its members, who are in detention, convicted, or active from outside.

For these reasons they were charged with “being members of a terrorist organisation”. The other lawyers, Oya Aslan, Barkın Timtik and Özgür Yılmaz, were charged with “being managers of an armed terrorist organization”.

Between September and December 2017, a number of human rights lawyers from the People’s Law Office were arrested following orders from the Istanbul Peace Criminal Judge. They have been accused of having ties to the DHKP-C. They are being detained separately in a number of different prisons, far from their families and their places of residence.

8 November 2017
Lawyer Engin Gökoğlu tortured in prison

On 30 October 2017, lawyer and human rights defender Engin Gökoğlu, was subjected to torture by prison officers in Tekirdag No. 2 T-type Prison. On 20 September 2017, 14 lawyers from the People’s Law Office, including Engin Gökoğlu, were accused of having ties to the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKP-C), recognised as a terrorist organisation in Turkey. They have been in police custody since 12 September 2017.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

On 3 November 2017, the People’s Law Office reported that Engin Gökoğlu required surgery after having been beaten and subjected to torture by prison officers four days prior. The incident happened after a group of eight prisoners, including Engin Gökoğlu, were separated and split into two cells. Following the separation, the prisoners began to protest by chanting and hitting the cell gates, which was met with a violent response by masked guards. The windows to the cells were broken and water cannons were sprayed through the openings, breaking up the prisoners who had refused to allow the masked guards entry. The prisoners were then heavily beaten with nightsticks and dragged through the broken glass on the floor. The guards broke Engin Gökoğlu’s arm while he was being handcuffed from behind, and following the unrest, the human rights defender was placed in a wheelchair where he was further beaten. He was not treated for his injuries and was forced to wait hours until he was taken to hospital to receive medical attention. The human rights defender could not be seen by an orthopedist for three days. He is currently being kept in a cell in Tekirdağ No.2 T-type Prison awaiting surgery and has not been given access to any of his personal effects.

Front Line Defenders is concerned about the physical and psychological safety of Engin Gökoğlu along with his lack of access to medical assistance. Front Line Defenders condemns the torture he has been subjected to in prison along with the charges levelled against him as it believes that they are directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate work as a human rights lawyer.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Turkey to:

1. Immediately release Engin Gökoğlu and drop all charges against him as Front Line Defenders believes that he has been targeted solely as a result of his legitimate human rights work;

2. Ensure that the treatment of Engin Gökoğlu, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment', adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

3.  Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation regarding the torture used against Engin Gökoğlu with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

4.  Provide the necessary medical treatment for injured human rights defender Engin Gökoğlu in a prompt manner.