Şahabettin Demir

BitlisDicle News Agencynews agencyreporterpro-KurdishSeptember 5 2010Demir, a reporter for the pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency, or DİHA, in the eastern city of Van, was serving a sentence of 11 years and one month at Bitlis E Type Prison on charges of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, and trespassing. The case was pending before the Supreme Court of Appeals in mid-2012. Demir was convicted along with two of his brothers after a reported fight with two relatives, according to defense lawyer Aydoğan Yolyapan. A cousin of Demir and the cousin’s wife suffered injuries in the altercation. Several aspects of the case were in dispute at trial, according to Yolyapan and court records. Demir not only denied involvement in the altercation, he said he was not present at the scene. One brother also denied involvement; the second acknowledged being at the scene but denied any criminal culpability. The cousin and his wife gave shifting and contradictory statements to authorities over time, court records show. In his initial statement to police, the cousin did not identify Şahabettin Demir as an assailant, although he later named the journalist in a statement given to the prosecutor. At trial, the couple said the brothers had not attacked them. The extent of the injuries was also in dispute at trial. Authorities introduced a medical report that described the cousin’s injuries as life-threatening, although the defense disputed the accuracy of the account. (The cousin’s wife, by all accounts, suffered minor injuries.) Despite the inconsistencies, the court found all three brothers guilty. In its ruling, the court cited a wiretapped phone conversation between Demir’s two brothers in which they referred to having been involved in a physical altercation. Yolyapan said his client believes he was targeted in reprisal for his reporting, which included coverage of four police officers accused of raping a girl in Erciş. Police, he said, threatened Demir with retaliation after the story was published. Demir had been previously convicted of producing propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, and sentenced to four years. That case was also pending before the Supreme Court of Appeals.attempted murder, assault with a weapon, and trespassingattempted murder, assault with a weapon, and trespassing