On 19th December 2013, Alex Haines of Bretton Woods Law attended, in his capacity as an independent international observer, the 7th hearing in the long-running criminal trial of the legal representatives of Adbullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A delegation of leading barristers and solicitors from the UK attended the trial, which is taking place in the Silivri prison complex outside Istanbul, the largest courthouse in the world. Another dozen international trial monitors from across Europe also attended as part of French and German delegations.
The Turkish authorities have established a special penal court to try 46 lawyers who were arrested in police raids throughout Turkey as part of the KCK anti-terror operations in November 2011. There have been, to date, seven hearings in the proceedings. Alex Haines’ mandate as a trial observer was to, inter alia, make the participants – particularly the judges – aware that they were under scrutiny, and to impartially record his views on the conduct and standard of the trial from a human rights perspective to ensure it complied with rule of law principles.