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01 March

Journalist Hasan Cemal convicted in Erdoğan insult case

Cemal was sentenced to 11 months and 20 days in prison -- suspended on the condition that he does not commit the same offence in a year


Hasan Cemal, veteran journalist and president of the P24, was sentenced on Wednesday to 11 months and 20 days in prison for insulting Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a column. The sentence was postponed.
 
The column, titled “Tin-pot Dictator,” was based on a speech delivered by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), in Parliament. It was published on the news portal T24 in January 2016.
 
According to the ruling, issued by the Ankara 24th Criminal Court of First Instance, Cemal will be on probation for a year but no officer has been assigned to supervise him. His sentence will have been deemed executed if he completes this period “in good conduct.”
 
The indictment against Cemal sought an imprisonment of up to 4 years and 8 months under Article 299 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) for “insulting President Erdoğan and attacking the personal rights of President Erdoğan beyond limits of criticism” in his column, published on Jan. 16, 2016.
 
Cemal, for his part, said in his testimony that his column consisted, except minor additions, of excerpts from Kılıçdaroğlu’s parliamentary speech. He also maintained that the views expressed in the column were “harsh criticism” that falls within freedom of expression in a democratic society.
 
The first hearing in the case was held in December 2016.
 
Acquittals
 
Cemal was earlier acquitted in two separate cases in which he was accused of insulting the president. Cemal was on trial for two columns published on Oct. 4, 2015 and Jan. 4, 2016, facing possible prison term of between 14 months to 4 years and 8 months in each case. He was acquitted in both cases in December 2016 after the judges ruled that the expressions used in the columns in question did not constitute the offence of insult.
 

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