The ironic state of the judiciary in Turkey. A judge said to the pregnant woman he is sentencing: “Do not worry, when you are 6 months pregnant the appeal court will release you. You did not share any information with us, I cannot release you.” The pregnant woman is still in prison.
BOLD- Hatice Şahnaz who has been in Antalya Döşemealtı Type L prison since 4th September 2018 is due to give birth. The 28-year-old woman was pregnant for 3 weeks when she was arrested and she has been in prison for 8 months.
Şahnaz’s pregnancy is on its 35th week and she is due for delivery soon. She had to spend her pregnancy in prison. According to medical reports she is expecting to give birth between 15th and 20th of May.
Unless the Supreme Court of Appeal reverses her sentence, another baby is going to grow up in prison with her mother, although this is against the Turkish Constitution.
THEY WERE ENGAGED ON JULY 16
Hatice and Hüseyin Şahnaz met in Bursa and decided to marry. On 15th of July 2016, Hüseyin Şahnaz and his family paid a visit to Hatice’s family. The couple got engaged the next day.
Hüseyin Şahnaz joined the military for conscription. When he was in the military in Sivas for 20 days, he was arrested with the accusation of using the Bylock app. He was sent to prison in Çorum and then transferred to the Bursa prison. On 1st February 2018, he was released. A young man spent his 15 months in prison for no reason.
The 29-year-old man went to his hometown in Kayseri after his release from prison. Later he went to Antalya where her fiancée lives for preparation of the wedding.
Hüseyin Şahnaz who graduated from Bilecik University public administration department found a minimum wage job at a jewellery shop in Antalya. He rented a house and on the 20th of July 2018, they got married.
WHEN THE POLICE RAIDED THEIR HOUSE, THEY WERE MARRIED FOR 1,5 MONTHS
However, their happiness was interrupted. When the police raided their house, they were married for 1,5 months. As if they were involved in smuggling or they were running away, police from the anti-smuggling unit raided their house.
“Actually, first they sent us letters stating we were banned to leave the country. Up until that day, there was not an investigation about my wife. She has not been detained or taken to court… We went to the courthouse to ask why she was banned. They said they did not know either. Although we went to the courthouse ourselves, two weeks later the police raided our house and detained my wife.”
Hatice Şahnaz who was arrested on 4th September 2018 has her first hearing on 8th October 2018 at the Antalya Criminal Court. She was sentenced to 6 years 10 months and 15 days in prison with the accusation of using the Bylock app based on a witness testimony. At the time she had been pregnant for 3 weeks.
THE JUDGE: YOU DID NOT TELL US ANYTHING, I CANNOT RELEASE YOU
The dialogue between the judge, lawyer and Hatice Şahnaz during the trial was as follows:
The Judge: You said you were pregnant. There are witness testimonies against you. Do you want to be examined under the effective remorse law?
Hatice Şahnaz: I do not even know the people who testified against me. I did not commit a crime.
The Lawyer: Your honour, my client is pregnant. We did not request an extension to prepare our defence expecting she would be released pending trial due to her pregnancy.
The Judge: She did not tell us anything, I cannot release her. Even if you request an extension she would remain in prison. (The judge turns to Hatice Şahnaz) Do not worry. Because you are pregnant, the appeal court will release you when it is 6 months.
Unfortunately, it did not go as the judge said. The appeal court approved Hatice Şahnaz’s sentence four months later. She took it to the tribunal court.
Hatice Şahnaz who graduated from Uludağ University Public Administration department used to work at a nursery in Bursa Kemalpaşa. Because she worked at this nursery her name was mentioned in 8 different cases and an investigation started against her.
HER FIRST 6 MONTHS OF PREGNANCY, SHE WAS TAKEN TO HOSPITAL IN HANDCUFFS
Hüseyin Şahnaz says his pregnant wife was taken to hospital in handcuffs for routine visits due to pregnancy:
“The distance between the prison and the hospital is 30-45 minutes. Up until her 6th month of pregnancy, my wife was taken to hospital in handcuffs. After 6 months, they started to take her to the hospital without handcuffs. We reported our concerns about her health to the CİMER (The Presidency Communication Centre). They responded saying ’She has been taken to the hospital 12 times, there is nothing to worry about’. This affected her psychology badly. A doctor said our baby might be born with a deformed leg and may need surgery. She has been worrying about this for months. Thank God, our baby’s health is better. However, the court of appeal approved my wife’s sentence and it upsets her.”
‘WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO IF I AM RELEASED?’
Hatice Şahnaz told her concerns to her husband during one of the visits stating, “What are we going to do if am released?”. “We do not have any health insurance and we were newly wedded. She is concerned about what we are going to do even if she is released. Her psychology is affected badly, and she even worries about these things. My only wish is her release, the rest is not important. On the phone, she always talks about what the baby might need. I am going to take some stuff for the baby in my next visit.”
MY WIFE, MOTHER, BROTHER AND I… WE HAVE ALL EXPERIENCED THE SAME
The Şahnaz family has suffered after July 15: “My dad died ten years ago. My mother had a car accident when she was coming to visit me in prison and is permanently injured. My brother’s ribs were broken in the same accident. The money I saved for our wedding was wasted on travel to prison and hospitals. We are trying to pay our debts. My wife, mother, brother and I have been suffering for three years…”