Türköne, a former columnist for the shuttered Zaman newspaper, is charged with “insulting the president” over an article he penned in 2014

CANSU PİŞKİN, ISTANBUL 

A trial where jailed academic and former Zaman columnist Mümtazer Türköne is charged with “insulting the president” resumed on 11 September 2019 at Istanbul’s Bakırköy 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance.

This was the fifth hearing in the case, where Türköne is accused for an article he penned on 16 March 2014 titled “Mecbur olmasa bu kadar kötü olur mu” (Would he be that evil if he didn’t have to?).

Türköne, who is jailed in the Silivri Prison, addressed the court via the judicial video-conferencing network SEGBİS during the hearing. P24 monitored the hearing, which got under way 20 minutes later than scheduled because of the delay in establishing the connection with the Silivri Prison. Türköne’s lawyer Melike Polat and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s lawyer Gökhan Yılmaz were in attendance in the courtroom.

The presiding judge Gül Sema Çevik asked Türköne if he had anything else to say concerning the article in question.

Türköne reminded the court of a compensation case filed over the same article, overseen by the 5th Bakırköy Civil Court of First Instance. The civil court recently requested the case file of the ongoing criminal case from the 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance. Although Türköne also requested a copy of the case file to prepare his defense statement, the criminal court failed to give him a copy.

Türköne told the court that the compensation case against him filed over the same newspaper column was finalized although the criminal case was still ongoing. Türköne reminded the court that case-law by the Supreme Court of Appeals stipulates that a compensation case against a person who is at the same time standing trial before a criminal court over a charge stemming from the same act cannot be finalized before the criminal court renders its verdict. However, the compensation case against Türköne was finalized before waiting for the verdict to be rendered in the criminal case and he was ordered to pay a compensation. 

Issuing an interim ruling at the end of the hearing, the court adjourned the trial until 15 October 2019 to allow time for Türköne to prepare his defense statement.

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