Trial against Syriac Orthodox priest resumes

The trial against the priest of the Syriac Orthodox Monastery Mor Yakub has continued in Mardin. The priest is accused of PKK membership because he gave bread and water to guerrilla fighters.

This article was originally published by ANF News on 30 September 2020. The original can be found Here

Mardin – The trial against Sefer (Aho) Bileçen continued on Friday in the province of Mardin. The priest of the Syriac Orthodox Monastery Mor Yakub (also known as the Church of St. Jacob of Nisibis) in Nusaybin district is accused of “membership in a terrorist organization” – meaning the PKK – for giving bread and water to guerrilla fighters.

On the second day of the trial against Bileçen, which was held at the 4th Heavy Penal Court in Mardin, the cleric rejected the accusations against him and repeated his previous statements. Bileçen does not deny the assistance, but emphasizes that it had no political background, but correspondeds solely to religious convictions. He said he did not do this in order to support an organization, but because of his faith. “I give food to everyone who comes to my door – whoever he is.” The priest is also accused of not having reported the identities of those seeking help to the authorities in time, although he learned afterwards that they were guerrilla fighters. The trial against Bileçen will continue on November 3.

The priest had been arrested in Nusaybin on January 8 and was jailed one day later. After five days in pre-trial custody, the competent court ordered the release of the priest against reporting requirements. Only two days later, the authorities admitted the charges against him.

If Sefer Bileçen is found guilty, he faces at least seven and a half years in prison.