Lawyers feel the heat inside Istanbul’s Palace of Justice
by Didem A. Collinsworth
Opened a year ago, İstanbul’s impressive nineteen-storey Palace of Justice is trumpeted to be the largest in Europe. Once inside the sparkling building, it looks airy, sterile and efficient. Not one, but two massive, blindfolded statues of Lady Justice flank the marble inner stairs to the law courts. When I visited this week, yellow plastic signs beneath both statues warned: Slippery Floor!
I was there on 16 and 17 July to catch a glimpse of the proceedings held by İstanbul’s 16th High Criminal Court in the second case against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), a Kurdish umbrella organisation that includes the armed and outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The case is part of a large investigation against the KCK ongoing since April 2009 throughout Turkey. Specially authorised courts have been set up in Istanbul, Diyarbakır and Van provinces, and so far 6000 to 7000 Kurdish activists, elected officials, politicians, lawyers, journalists and students have been detained. Some were later released.
Photo: James Gordon/Flickr