Expression Interrupted

Journalists and academics bear the brunt of the massive crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey. Scores of them are currently subject to criminal investigations or behind bars. This website is dedicated to tracking the legal process against them.

Eren Keskin and Reyhan Çapan fined over Özgür Gündem coverage of Gezi victim

Eren Keskin and Reyhan Çapan fined over Özgür Gündem coverage of Gezi victim

 

 

Keskin and Çapan were each sentenced to pay TL 12,500 over Özgür Gündem’s reports on Berkin Elvan, who died during Gezi protests

 

CANSU PİŞKİN, İSTANBUL

 

An İstanbul court on 24 May 2022 convicted lawyer and human rights defender Eren Keskin, who is also the former co-editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Özgür Gündem newspaper, and Reyhan Çapan, the newspaper’s former responsible managing editor, of “exposing the identity of an underage victim” over the Özgür Gündem’s coverage of Berkin Elvan, who was killed after sustaining a head injury during the Gezi Park protests of 2013.

 

The İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, which oversaw the trial, sentenced Keskin and Çapan to each pay TL 12,500 (713 euros), for five reports published in Özgür Gündem in 2013 and 2014.

 

Keskin and Çapan were originally prosecuted and sentenced in March 2019 by the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance to pay a fine of TL 10,416 but the Supreme Court of Cassation overturned that verdict on 12 October 2020, saying the fine should have been higher, and therefore ordered a retrial.

 

The new conviction came at the end of the fifth hearing of the retrial. The court session was attended by Keskin and Çapan’s lawyer Sercan Korkmaz. The two defendants were not present.

 

Lawyer Korkmaz evoked the Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor’s Office’s opinion on the case that the news pieces in question should be regarded as an activity serving public interest. Korkmaz also reminded that the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance had previously ruled in a similar case that the identity of the minor involved had already become public through news reports published in other media outlets and thus ruled that the publication of the identity of that minor did not constitute a crime. He further argued that since Elvan eventually died of his injuries, the Özgür Gündem reports publishing his name did not constitute a threat to his future interests.

 

The prosecutor, however, asked for the conviction of the defendants of the impugned crime in their final opinion. Announcing its verdict at the end of the hearing, the court ruled to convict Eren Keskin and Reyhan Çapan and sentenced them separately to pay a judicial fine of TL 12,500.

 

Berkin Elvan, a 14 years old teenage boy, died in 2014 after remaining in coma for months after being hit on the head by a gas canister fired by the police during the Gezi Park protests. His injury and eventual death were widely covered by the national media.

 

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