Journalist Onur Öncü is acquitted in the case in which he was charged with “insulting” the Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu.
On August 11, 2021, the Küçükçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had prepared an indictment against journalist Onur Öncü because of a video broadcasted on the YouTube channel of #Özgürüz on May 3, 2021 and which was claimed to have been discovered during an investigation conducted by the İzmir Provincial Security Directorate.The half-page indictment claimed that journalist Öncü insulted Süleyman Soylu with the video titled “Ülkenin başına Hortum Süleyman kesilmek isteyen bir İçişleri Bakanı var!” which contained a reference to an infamous police officer who tortured detainees by beating them up with a hose [hortum]. The prosecutor requested that Öncü be tried and sentenced for “insulting a public official because of his duties.” The Küçükçekmece 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance accepted the indictment and decided to hold a “simple trial procedure.” The court notified the parties that they have 15 days to submit their arguments.
The lawyers of the Media and Law Studies Assocation (MLSA) who represent journalist Öncü submitted their arguments to the court on September 23, 2021. Reminding the court of the case law of the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights, MLSA lawyers argued that the statements in question fall under freedom of expression and thereby should be protected even though these statements do not belong to journalist Öncü as it was claimed by the prosecution. Further arguing that the elements of the alleged offense did not occur, MLSA lawyers requested that Öncü be acquitted.
Adjudicating the case on July 26, 2022, the Küçükçekmece 22nd Criminal Court of First Instance reasoned that the elements of the offense Öncü was charged with did not occur. In its reasoned judgment, the court further stated that the statements by Öncü throughout the video did not contain any insult towards Süleyman Soylu but instead can be considered as “harsh criticism” in line with the case law of the Court of Cassation and the European Court of Human Rights. The court ruled to acquit journalist Öncü of “insulting a public official” charge.
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