A Turkish court acquitted a writer for the third time on Wednesday of charges that she was involved in a deadly 1998 explosion -- a case which has raised concerns about judicial process in the EU-candidate country.
The verdict was welcomed with cheers from people outside the Istanbul court who gathered to support sociologist Pinar Selek. She was accused of planting a bomb at the city's Ottoman spice bazaar which killed seven and wounded more than 100 people.
Human Rights Watch had described the case as a "travesty of justice", saying there was substantial evidence that the explosion had been due to an accidental gas leak.
Selek worked as a sociologist researching Kurdish issues in the mid-to-late 1990s and had contact with the banned Turkish Workers Party (PKK) group.
Selek, who lives in Berlin and did not the attend the hearing, would have faced a life sentence if convicted.
She was arrested in July 1998, aged 27, and freed two and a half years later after a team of experts concluded that the explosion had not been caused by a bomb, but by the accidental ignition of a gas cylinder.
Despite these findings, the case against Selek continued and she was acquitted twice in 2006 and 2008. The prosecutor appealed each time and the appeals court ordered a retrial, but the court reaffirmed its acquittal ruling.
The indictment said Selek had worked with the PKK under the guise of her work and had planted the bomb with a co-defendant. It was unclear if prosecutors will appeal the latest ruling.
"The pursuit of this case for 12 years violates the most basic requirements for a fair trial," Emma Sinclair-Webb, Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch, said before the verdict.
One of Selek's co-defendants, who later testified that he did not know her, had originally made a false confession under police torture, implicating her, rights group said.
ReutersLast Mod: 09 Şubat 2011, 16:17