Trial of Badinan detainee adjourned for third time

Berivan Hassan has been detained for the last 17 months without trial.

By KirkukNow

A court of Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR on Monday has postponed the trial of one out of tens of Badinan (Duhok) detainees, mainly journalists and civic activists, for the third time to March 6th, lawyer said.

Berivan Hassan, along with about 80 detainees, has been arrested by the Asayish, security forces, of Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil and Duhok in September 2020 for destabilizing IKR, charges denied by the detainees and their volunteer defense team.

Hassan was brought from women rehabilitation prison to Erbil Criminal Court Two on February 28th yet trial has been suspended due to pending cases, court told lawyers.

“The judge has put all of us, seven lawyers, in one room and gave us only ten minutes to review the dossier of Berivan,” Bashadar Hassan, member of the volunteer defense team told KirkukNow in front of court.

“All the charges are not serious, though we had no enough time to review it thoroughly,” he added.

All the charges are nothing serious, though we had no enough time to review it thoroughly

Relatives of Badinan detainees were present n the corridor of court, including two sisters and a brother of Hassan who denied talking to the media.

Iraq team of Christian Peace Makers, CPT, an international organization set up to support teams of peace workers in conflict areas around the world, beside several members of Iraqi Kurdistan parliament were at court for follow up with case of Badinan detainees.

“The witness brought forward to testify against Berivan said he has never seen her yet the informant was kept secret,” the volunteer attorney said. “The judge should fix date for next trial once adjourned yet he didn’t.”

Later lawyers were informed that trial has been suspended to 10 am on March 6th.  

On February 22, Nechrivan Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKRP, per a residential decree has reduced the conviction sentence for 5 of Badinan detainees from six years to two years and half, expected to be released after six months.

Following the decree, CPT said in a statement on February 25th, “Despite our pleasure for presidential decree of Feb. 22 to reduce imprisonment for 5 of Badinan activists and journalists, we were expecting their immediate release and compensation.”

“Up today, 19 of Badinan detainees have been tried, 16 freed following 1 year of detention, 5 activists have not been charged yet though in prison for 14 months. CPT Iraq team calls for drop of charges, immediate release of activists arrested between Aug. 8, 20 to Feb. 11, 2021.”

Badinan detainees, few of them tried and freed up today, are victims of a wave of arrests carried out by the Asayish (Kurdish security forces) of the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG since June 2020 in response to a series of major protests against delay in salaries of state employees, KRG handling of the economic crisis resulting from disputes with Baghdad over oil production, export and corruption, and reached its peak under the Covid-19 pandemic.

The charges are based on Law 21 approved by parliament of Kurdistan, Iraq, in 2003 which revoked item 156 of Iraq penal code stating that "any one purposefully in any means involved in an action that harms security, stability and sovereignty Iraqi Kurdistan region's institutions and causes damage will face life imprisonment or short-term imprisonment."

The court verdict of six years prison for five of Badinan detainees last February sparked wide protests as Iraqi and international media outlets and organizations, human rights advocates & MPs expressed their grave concern that that press freedom is increasingly under threat in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region IKR.

Local and international media organizations, journalists, civil society activists and lawmakers condemned the conviction as a restraint of freedom of press and expression as the penal code was used as means of suppression by Saddam Hussein totalitarian regime for decades against the opposition parties including the KDP and its partner Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK, the two key political parties leading the KRG and ruling IKR.

The independent commission for human rights in Kurdistan region recorded arrest of 300 people from August to October 2020 for "organization of protests and disorder mainly in Duhok northern province. More than 50 are still in prison.  

The KRG has sent over 50 activists and journalists to court in 2020 and 2021 and some of the cases are still pending at court awaiting trial.

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