The Beyoğlu (Istanbul) 2nd High Criminal Court handed down a 2,000 Turkish Lira (TL) (€ 910) converted judicial fine to writer and journalist Yalçın Ergündoğan under charges of "violating the personal rights" of Haydar Baş, Chairman of the Independent Party of Turkey (BTP). The charges were based on Ergündoğan's writing entitled "Disciples revolted against Haydar Baş", published in Birgün newspaper on 26 April 2005.
Haydar Baş, head of the Kadiri religious order, had filed a complaint with Ergündoğan on the grounds of his article with a TL 20,000 (€9,100) compensation claim at the Istanbul 7th Criminal Court of First Instance. He had opened another case against the writer at the Beyoğlu 4th Magistrate Court with a TL 5,000 (€4,550) claim for damages for mental anguish.
Ergündoğan: I fulfilled my duty as a journalist
Ergündoğan did not attend the hearing on 28 January when the court decided against him. In an announcement subsequent to the hearing the author stated that he did not intend any defamation, "The behaviour of a public figure who is the leader of a political party should be brought to attention and criticism should be tolerated", Ergündoğan argued.
It was the 17th hearing of the case when President Judge İrfan Adil Uncu of the Beyoğlu 2nd Court of First Instance pronounced the decision. Initially, Ergündoğan was sentenced to 90 days imprisonment applying article 125/2 of the Turkish Criminal Court (TCK) (If the act is committed by means of a voiced, written or visual message addressing the victim, the perpetrator shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three months to two years or imposed a judicial fine.). Afterwards, the sentence was increased by one sixth to 105 days imprisonment applying TCK article 125/4(In case the offence of insulting has been committed in public, the penalty shall be increased by one sixth.) Finally, the penalty was converted into a judicial fine of TL 2,000.
Ergündoğan's lawyer Tora Pekin did not attend the hearing either but presented his client's defence in writing.
According to the defence, Ergündoğan aimed to inform the public about Baş's long-time disciples leaving the religious sect for certain reasons. The journalist's source was the 'Gerçek Yüzü' website run by Baş himself.
Lawyer Pekin said, "The Court of Appeals stated that the publication was done in a proper way. According to evidence included in the expert report the news item written by Yalçın Ergünddoğan was based on information taken from the internet site".
Lawer Pekin reminded the fact that the referring topic was even brought to the agenda of the Turkish Parliament and that furthermore a public case was opened against Haydar Baş. (EÖ/VK)
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