Court dismisses new case against Sendika.org editor Demirhan, who was sentenced to 1 year, 2 months and 17 days in prison last year for “insulting the president” over the same post
CANSU PİŞKİN, İSTANBUL
Sendika.Org editor Ali Ergin Demirhan appeared before the Istanbul 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance on 7 April 2021 for the first hearing of his trial on the charge of “insulting the president” under Article 299/1-2 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). The accusation stemmed from five social media posts Demirhan had shared in 2018 and 2019. However, one of the posts Demirhan was indicted for was among six Twitter posts for which he was sentenced in 2020 in another trial, also overseen by the same court.
Demirhan and his lawyer Arkın Hürtaş attended the hearing. Reminding the court that he stood trial on the charge of “insulting the president” for his Twitter post, dated 16 November 2018, in which he commented on the Gezi park protests, Demirhan demanded his acquittal.
After hearing Demirhan and his lawyer’s statements, the court heard the final opinion of the prosecutor, who argued that Demirhan’s Twitter posts could not be deemed within the scope of press freedom or freedom of expression and requested the court to sentence the journalist.
Demirhan’s lawyer requested a continuance to prepare their final statement in response to the prosecutor’s opinion. The court rejected the lawyer’s request on the grounds that it was “aimed at delaying the proceedings.” Issuing its judgment at the end of the hearing, the court dismissed the case on the grounds of its previous judgment on the same charge against Demirhan.
According to Article 223/7 of the Turkish Code of Penal Procedure (CMK), a final judgment by a criminal court bars further prosecution for the same crime against the same person.
The indictment against Demirhan, issued on 2 November 2020 by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, accused the journalist over five social media posts he had shared in 2018 and 2019. The prosecutor’s office sent the indictment to the Istanbul 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance, where Demirhan was already on trial on the charge of “insulting the president” over six of his social media posts. One of the five posts in the new indictment was already among the six posts he was on trial for.
The final hearing of that trial was held on 6 November 2020, only four days after the new indictment against Demirhan was issued, and the court sentenced Demirhan to 1 year, 2 months and 17 days in prison for “insulting the president.” The sentence was deferred.