The Pinar Selek Case: The “Ground Hog Day Prosecution”

Bill Murray and unnamed groundhog in Groundhog Day (1993)

Bill Murray and unnamed groundhog in Groundhog Day (1993)

One of the great romantic comedies of my youth was Groundhog Day, the story of a misanthrope news reporter doomed to repeat the same awful day over and over again until he got it right.

The news today that a Turkish prosecutor has reopened the case against Pinar Selek  shows that the Turkish justice system is similarly caught in a tragic loop of bad choices.  With the prosecution once again demanding a life sentence for Selek, the judicial system doesn’t seem very close to getting it right either.

But that’s where the comparison ends.  There’s nothing funny about this continued judicial travesty.

Pinar Selek

Pinar Selek

Human Rights advocates have long criticized this Kafkaesque judicial process, which has continued now for sixteen years, despite the fact that she has been acquitted three times by Turkish courts.  In 2012, Murat Çekiç, Director of Amnesty International – Turkey, stated, “It is time for this mockery of justice to come to an end and this case be put to bed.”  In the same month, Emma Sinclair-Webb, of Human Rights Watch said :

[Selek’s trial is] a huge miscarriage of justice. The case of a women who is accused on the basis of no evidence, or statements extracted under torture were used to convict Pinar Selek. The evidence of a bombing is completely lacking; there is no forensic evidence that there was even a bombing in the Spice Bazaar back in [19]98.

In June, 2014, Pen International protested “the continuing judicial harassment of Selek and, in the absence of any conclusive or reliable evidence,” calling for her immediate acquittal.

Unfortunately, Turkish prosecutors keep repeating their bad choices.  The mockery of justice continues.  It must end now.

Howard Eissenstat
St. Lawrence University

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