ISTANBUL, June 11 A top Turkish court on
Wednesday overturned a life sentence imposed on a sociologist
for an alleged role in a 1998 explosion, the latest twist in a
case highlighting concerns about judicial independence.
Pinar Selek was charged with planting a bomb in Istanbul's
Ottoman-era Spice Bazaar, which killed seven people and wounded
more than 100, in July 1998, but was released two and a half
years later after experts concluded the blast had been caused by
the accidental ignition of a gas cylinder.
The case against Selek, who lives in France, continued
despite the findings and she was sentenced to life in prison in
January, 2013, despite three previous acquittals.
Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals overturned that sentence
on Wednesday on what local media reports said were procedural
grounds, a verdict welcomed by campaigners who have fought for
years for Selek's definitive acquittal.
"This is a victory for the lawyers, for Pinar Selek ... but
above all for those who are fighting for justice and freedom in
Turkey," said a statement on her website (www.pinarselek.fr).
Selek worked as a sociologist researching Kurdish issues in
the mid-to-late 1990s and had contact with the outlawed militant
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by
Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
Human rights groups have accused Turkey of using broad
anti-terrorism laws, under which dozens of journalists have been
jailed in the past, to silence dissent.
Human Rights Watch has described the case as a "travesty of
justice", saying there was substantial evidence that the
explosion had been due to an accidental gas leak.
(Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Tom