Czech court acquits Kurdish physician Uzunoglu By ÈTK / Published 1 August 2007 CTK Last year Uzunoglu won the Frantisek Kriegel award for civil courage, annually presented by the Charter 77 Foundation. Prague, July 31 (CTK) – The Prague City Appeals Court Tuesday acquitted Kurdish physician and businessman Yekta Uzunoglu, thus cancelling the two-year suspended sentence with a five-year probation a district court imposed on him in March for the alleged blackmail and torture of a foreigner. A first-instance court previously acquitted Uzunoglu of the charge of torturing another two men. Uzunoglu, whose case has continued for almost 13 years, appealed the March verdict on the spot. He said his case was a conspiracy and that the law enforcement bodies proceeded unlawfully. Today’s verdict cannot be appealed, the attorney can only lodge a recourse with the Supreme Court. The state attorney’s office will decide on further steps after receiving the verdict. "I am immensely glad that the truth has finally won though it took 13 years…This proves that it is worth fighting for," Uzunoglu said. He added he would not like to file any other legal complaints but he would claim compensation from the state for the erroneous steps of law enforcement bodies in his case. He noted he would donate the money from the compensation to organisations fighting for justice in the Czech Republic. The City Court ruled that the lower-level court’s decision was primarily based on the testimony of the tortured foreigner, Guerken Goenen. Goenen testified that Uzunoglu along with another three accomplices tied him up, beat him, robbed him, photographed him in female clothes and they kept him locked in an office for a couple of days in September 1994. However, the City Court did not find Goenen’s testimony trustworthy, said court panel chairwoman Felicia Hruskova, adding that there is no single piece of evidence proving that Uzunoglu was involved in the crime. Other persons charged along with Uzunoglu, who were sentenced in absentia to expulsion from the Czech Republic for 10 years, were also acquitted. The fourth charged man died in the meantime. "The witness lied, being orchestrated by other people," Uzunoglu said. He said people who were opposed to his business activities were behind his arrest. Goenen allegedly committed crimes and worked as a police agent. The case was launched in 1994 when the police found tortured Goenen in an office belonging to Uzunoglu’s company. According to the charges, the perpetrators tortured Goenen to make him keep silent about Uzunoglu’s suspicious activities and they allegedly photographed him naked to discredit him. The Czech Salamoun association in support of independent judiciary and a number of renowned personalities stood up for Uzunoglu. They accused Czech politicians and judiciary for having failed in this case. Uzunoglu’s followers supported him by a symbolical hunger strike that was joined by former Czech president Vaclav Havel. In 2006, Uzunoglu won the Frantisek Kriegel award for civic courage, annually presented by the Charter 77 Foundation. For More:,0 – 40k – 36k,08d7d2ffe0e246c55eb3f3b4458a2b98,wid,468957.html
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