Mücella Yapıcı is a member of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) and is one of the executives of the İstanbul Büyükkent branch of the Chamber of Architects. She is also a representative of the Taksim Solidarity Platform, which was established in 2012 in the legal battle against projects that threaten the Taksim Square and the Taksim Gezi Park. Yapıcı is one of the defendants in the Gezi Park case where 16 rights defenders stand trial and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
On 8 July 2013, Yapıcı was taken into custody along with 50 other people, including members of the Taksim Solidarity Platform. She was released on 11 July 2013. Later on, an indictment was prepared for 26 of these people on charges of “forming and controlling a criminal organization,” “disobeying a police officer,” and “violating the law on assemblies and demonstrations.” The indictment was rejected on 10 February 2014 because “it [was] not clear under which laws the suspects had founded an organization to commit crimes. The indictment should explain how the suspects founded and controlled an organization with the aim of committing crimes. It should also be clear which laws are violated, which would permit the accused to defend themselves.”
When the prosecutor of the investigation changed, a second indictment was prepared. In this second indictment, the charge of “disobeying a police officer” was removed, meaning the 26 individuals, including Yapıcı, were charged with “founding and controlling a criminal organization” and “violating the law on assemblies and demonstrations.” However, the second indictment also did not explain how a criminal organization was founded and controlled, and how the organization allowed the defendants to commit crimes. Nonetheless, this indictment was accepted on 17 March 2014. In this particular trial, Yapıcı was facing up to 17 years in prison, but the court acquitted all 26 defendants in 2015.
Yapıcı’s story does not end with this indictment or her acquittal. She is now one of the 16 individuals who stands trial in the Gezi case. This trial includes the representatives of TMMOB at the time, three members of Taksim Solidarity, Chamber of City Planners of Turkey Istanbul Office Executive Board chairperson Tayfun Kahraman, lawyer Can Atalay, and Osman Kavala. The 16 defendants are accused of “overthrowing the government of the Republic of Turkey or preventing it from doing its duties” and are facing aggravated life imprisonment.
This Gezi indictment was prepared four years after the acquittals took place in 2015. It is based on evidence collected by prosecutor Muammer Akkaş, who is now being investigated for FETÖ membership.
Architect Yapıcı is accused of organizing a coup attempt for doing her profession. In other words, she is being punished for protecting the green spaces and trees of the city and is facing aggravated life imprisonment for these activities.
The fourth hearing of the Gezi case held on 24 and 25 December 2019.
In the fifth hearing of Gezi trial, on 28 January 2020, the defending attorneys’ requests for recusation have been rejected. While the attorneys left in protest, the audience was ordered out of the court hall.
The prosecutor presented his opinion as to the accusations on Gezi trial to the court on February 6, 2020. He asked Mücella Yapıcı, alongside with Osman Kavala and Yiğit Aksakoğlu be penalized as per the relevant provisions in the Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on charge of “attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey or attempting to partially or completely prevent them from fulfilling its duties by using force and violence.”
The 6. hearing of the case was on February 18, 2020. The Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court has acquitted Mücella Yapıcı and all other suspects. However, the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice lifted the acquittal decisions on January 22, 2021. The Chamber ordered that the case file be sent to the court of first instance for re-examination and judgment. With the missing evidence, it was decided to continue the trial.
In December 2020, HDP MP and Parliamentary Human Rights Inquiry Commission member Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu announced that ’30 university students detained in Uşak were subjected to strip-searches’. AKP Group Deputy Chairwoman Özlem Zengin, denied the allegations. Following the event, Mücella Yapıcı shared a post on her social media account and announced that she was subjected to a strip-search when she was detained during the Gezi protests. An indictment was prepared in March 2021, eight years later, for the strip-search applied to Yapıcı. If the indictment is accepted, the two police officers and the custody chief who conducted the search will be prosecuted.
The 36th Assize Court trying Kavala decided for the joinder of the case regarding the crimes of “attempting to subvert the Constitutional order” and “political and military espionage” with the Gezi trial at the hearing that took place on February 5, 2021.
Another merger decision came on April 28, 2021. The case of Can Dündar, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Gökçe Tüylüoğlu, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu and İnanç Ekmekçi, who were tried in the Gezi trial on the allegation of ‘attempting to overthrow the government’ and whose files were separated ‘because they were abroad’ merged with the main Gezi Trial by the decision of Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court.
The Istanbul 30th High Criminal Court on May 21, 2021 began the retrial of Mücella Yapıcı and 15 others over their role in nationwide protests in 2013.
The verdict of the Çarşı case, in which 35 people were acquitted in December 2015, was overturned on April 28, 2021. Overturning the decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the file should be merged with the Gezi Park case. Mahmut Başbuğ, the judge of the 30th High Criminal Court, wrote to the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court, where the Çarşı case will be heard on June 15, 2021, suggesting that the files be combined. Then, on July 28, 2021, Başbuğ, who was temporarily appointed to this court, found his request on the spot and approved the merger. Thus, the files were combined with the judgment of the judge who made both the request and the decision.
The next hearing was held on 8 October 2021. Mücella Yapıcı stated that she did not accept the indictment and said, “I was tried twice with the same indictment, I was acquitted, my acquittal was finalized. Then I was tried again with the same indictment, and I was acquitted again. You cannot criminalize Gezi by mixing cases so much. It is our honor to travel,” he said.
The next hearing date is set for November 26, 2021.
The fifth hearing of the merged case was held on February 21, 2022. The prosecutor of the trial demanded that the files of the defendants of the Çarşı trial be separated as of the current stage. The court decided to continue Kavala’s detention and to separate the files. The next hearing will be held on March 21, 2022.
Announcing his opinion on March 4, 2022, the prosecutor demanded that Osman Kavala and Mücella Yapıcı be sentenced to aggravated life sentence on the charge of “attempting to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey by using force and violence”. For the other defendants, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Ali Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi, he demanded from 15 up to 20 years in prison with the charge of “aiding the attempt to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey by using force and violence“.
Mücella Yapıcı, in her interview published in Evrensel the day before the hearing, said, “If there is no law in a country, if everything is between the lips of politicians, if Süleyman Soylu comes out a week before the trial and targets Osman Kavala, I don’t know how they can be repaired. That’s why I’m ashamed of this case.”
In the sixth hearing, the court decided to give the defendants and their lawyers a final time to make statements against the opinion on the merits.
The judgment hearing of the case was held on 22 and 25 April 2022.
After the defense of the lawyers, the court asked the defendants for their last words. Mücella Yapıcı said to the judge, “I do not think it is my last word,” emphasizing that she has never been in favor of violence; “I have carried out my profession with honor for the benefit of society. So far, I have never fed a single forbidden bite to my child. I have not committed theft or corruption. I used my profession in line with my profession. I am honored with my life. I hope you have the same honor when you reach my age. The judgment is yours,” she said.
Mücella Yapıcı, Çiğdem Mater, Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi were each sentenced to 18 years in prison. The court decided to arrest the seven defendants on the grounds that “the amount of the fine and the judicial control measure could not provide the expected benefit from detention“.
The 3rd Penal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice upheld the 18-year prison sentence given to Yapıcı on 28 December 2022, announcing that it found it appropriate.
The Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Public Prosecutor's Office requested that the convictions of Gezi detainees be upheld in July 2023. The Office of the Chief Prosecutor sent the notification regarding the case to the 3rd Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation. The Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor demanded that the sentence of Mücella Yapıcı be reversed on the grounds that "sufficient, conclusive and convincing evidence for her conviction could not be obtained, and she was sentenced with insufficient justification, while she should have been punished separately for her fixed actions".
Mücella Yapıcı reacted to the request of the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office of the Court of Cassation to have the sentences of all the prisoners upheld, except herself. She underlined that there is no evidence about the other defendants in the absence of any evidence that would warrant conviction for her.
The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals decided on the objection regarding the verdicts given against 17 people on September 28, 2023. While it upheld the 18-year prison sentence given to Osman Kavala, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Minde Özerden and Çiğdem Mater Utku, it overturned the 18-year prison sentence given to Ali Hakan Altınay, Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi and Mücella Yapıcı. It was decided that Mücella Yapıcı and Ali Hakan Altınay would be released on condition of judicial control.
The retrial of these three people for violating the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations No. 2911 started on February 21, 2024, at the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court. The court complied with the reversal decision of the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals for acquittal and lifted the judicial control on Hakan Altınay, Yiğit Ekmekçi and Mücella Yapıcı. The next hearing will be held on May 22, 2024.