Turkey opens another 'Kafkaesque' trial against scholar exiled to France

The latest trial in absentia of Turkish sociologist Pinar Selek opened in Istanbul on Friday, after four previous prosecutions resulted in acquittal. Turkish authorities accuse Selek, who has taken refuge in France and teaches in Nice, of "terrorism" in a case that dates back to 1998.

Known for her work on minority rights, Selek was first arrested on 11 July 1998, in connection with an explosion two days earlier at Istanbul's Spice Bazaar that killed seven people and wounded approximately 100 others. She was jailed for two years.

In spite of an expert report showing that the tragedy was caused by an accidental explosion in a gas cylinder, prosecutors continued to pursue charges against her.

Selek was acquitted four times, in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2014, but Turkish courts overturned the decision each time.

In June 2022, the Supreme Court reversed her latest acquittal and has now opened proceedings for the fifth time.

The repeated prosecutions show that "the Turkish authorities will not stop at any manoeuvre to intimidate me and dissuade me from my work, especially when it comes to the Kurdish, Armenian, or general Turkish nationalism issues", Selek told RFI.

Calling the trial "Kafkaesque," Selek told French press agency AFP that she "refuses to get used" to her 26-year judicial ordeal.

Writers' association PEN International urged Turkey to drop all charges.

Read more on RFI English

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