The Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance sentenced journalist Nazlı Ilıcak to imprisonment of eleven months and 20 days under charges of "insult via the media" of Judge Osman Kaçmaz from the Sincan district of Ankara. The sentence was suspended.
Ilıcak from Sabah newspaper wrote a column entitled "The President's Immunity", published on 25 May 2009. The journalist had accused Judge Osman Kaçmaz from the Sincan 1st High Criminal Court of behaving officiously and in an ideological manner. Kaçmaz intended to sue President Abdullah Gül in the context of an investigation into "lost millions", a corruption case in the 1990s.
Writing about "officiousness" regarded as criminal offence
Ilıcak wrote, "The judge form Sincan might behave ideologically; or as far as his conscience is concerned, he believed that immunity did not apply to Gül. But anyhow, looking at the discussion started off in the country, he says 'That's the last thing we needed' and at least I want to emphasize Osman Kaçmaz's officiousness".
Sentenced to five years of silence
Ilıcak was not present at the hearing when Court Judge Sevim Efendiler claimed that she had "exceeded the limits of criticism".
Efendiler initially decreed for a two years and two months' prison sentence under article 125 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) on defamation. The sentence was then mitigated to eleven months and 20 days imprisonment.
The judge decided for a "probation period" for the writer of five years. If Ilıcak "does not deliberately commit the same kind of crime" within this period, the sentence will not be enforced.
"Lost billions" case
Welfare Party leaders were accused of embezzling around one trillion lira, i.e. one million lira in today's currency (approx. € 476,000). Party chair Necmettin Erbakan and 78 party leaders were accused of forging documents and were tried. Erbakan was sentenced to two years four months imprisonment. 68 party officials received prison sentences of up to one year and two months. The Supreme Court of Appeals ratified the sentences.
Because Gül had parliamentary immunity at the time, no criminal case was opened against him. When his term ended, the file was considered again, but the Ankara Chief Public Prosecution decided to drop the case. Following the objection of Cahit Nalbantoğlu, a former member of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the Sincan court has decreed a possible trial. (EÖ/VK)
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