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Biggest mass trial in modern Turkish history descends into farce as judge fails to show up at court

TURKEY’S biggest mass political trial in history descended into farce today as the judge hearing the case failed to turn up at the courtroom in Ankara’s Sincan prison.

Lawyers for 108 defendants from the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were told that he was undergoing surgery and would not be attending court for the next two to three months.

The bombshell announcement caused confusion at the fifth hearing of the so-called Kobani trial in the Turkish capital, with the legal team initially refusing to give a defence statement without the judge present.

But proceedings continued into what has been described as “a political show trial,” despite objections.

After a lengthy adjournment, former HDP executive board member Meryem Adibelli said that she would give her defence, speaking in Kurdish.

She reminded the court that the HDP is an official and legal political party with representatives in the Turkish parliament.

It was founded in 2012 on the principles of democracy and peace, Ms Adibelli said, explaining that it was on this basis that she joined the party.

“The Kurdish people and the women’s problem is the biggest issue facing Turkey,” she told the courtroom. 

“The HDP’s politics on this are also clear. I’ve always had faith in justice and law. I believe that justice and law will be served sooner or later.”

Ms Adibelli also took aim at Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention earlier this year, which she said weakened women’s rights and security overnight.

“Thousands of women reacted to this,” she said, referring to the mass street protests that swept the country in defence of women’s rights and against femicide. 

“However, we women with political views and stances are either prosecuted or arrested and put in prison. I’m here today because I have a political opinion,” she continued.

Ms Adibelli said that she had not committed any crime.

Prosecutors are seeking life sentences for the defendants who face a number of charges including disrupting unit of the state and 37 charges of homicide.

They are accused of causing the deaths of their own supporters by calling for street protests in defence of the Syrian city of Kobani as it was held under siege by Isis in October 2014.

About 53 people were shot dead by security forces and government-affiliated paramilitary gangs during the unrest, however none of the perpetrators face charges for the killings.

The trial resumes on Tuesday.

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