Erbil court postpones trial of four activists detained in Duhok: lawyer

A man holds a poster reading “Freedom for Persons in Bahadin” outside the Court of Appeals in Erbil, July 5, 2021. Ayub Ali/Esta Media Network

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — A court in Erbil once again postponed a trial of four activists who were detained in Duhok province last year, Esta Media Network’s reporter said on Monday. 

Erbil Criminal Court-2 was scheduled to hold a trial for activists Shirwan Taha, Masoud Shangali, Kargar Abbas and Bandawar Ayub on Monday.

Lawyer Bashdar Hassan said the trial was delayed due to “changes made in the posts of the head and two other judges of the court, who have not read the cases” of the detainees.

“The detainees are very uncomfortable and bored and they decided to go on a hunger strike in front of the judges and head of the court,” Hassan added.

On Sunday, mother of Shirwan Taha, one of the detainees, died 24 hours after she was denied to meet her son at a prison in Erbil.

“So far, Shirwan does not know about the death of his mother,” Hassan said.

The Erbil court is also scheduled to hold hearings on the cases of other activists on September 8 and 20, their lawyer said last week.

The Kurdish security forces detained dozens of journalists and activists in Duhok last year over espionage and allegedly undermining national security in the Kurdistan Region.

In February, Erbil criminal court sentenced journalists Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari and Ayaz Karam as well as activists Shvan Omer and Hariwan Issa to six years in prison on national security charges.

Their lawyers presented appeals twice to the court of appellate, but they were rejected.

According to Hassan, there are still 35 more activists whose cases are still at the directorate of Asayish (security).

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