A man who was born deaf and mute could face up to 25 years in prison on charges of "making propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization” at a protest last year, Hurriyet Daily News has reported on Thursday.
The 37-year-old is accused of "committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization," "making propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization" and "resisting arrest”.
"It is impossible for my client to chant slogans,” the report quoted Tugay Berk, the lawyer of Mehmet Tahir İlhan, as saying. “It is against logic and reason to charge a suspect, who is lacking the physical abilities to make propaganda on behalf of an organization, with such an accusation. The fact that İlhan is being put on trial for making propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization is tragicomic. We request that this unlawfulness be ended immediately.” According to Berk, his client is not only deaf and mute but also illiterate.
İlhan was arrested by police on April 21, 2011 at a protest organised by the supporters of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). After being released by a Mersin court, he was arrested again by a court in the neighbouring province of Adana that was also investigating the case.
Assisted by an interpreter at his court hearing the suspect denied the accusations: "I was on my way home after finishing work at the market when I saw the protesting group. A friend [in the group] of mine gestured at me to join them but I refused. The police intervened right after that."
"I did not throw rocks, Molotov cocktails or fireworks at the police," he added.