Case Monitoring

Journalist Rüstem Batum is acquitted of ‘insulting the president’

EYLEM SONBAHAR*

The 17th hearing of the trial in which journalist Rüstem Batum whom MLSA represents in court, faces “insulting the president” charge was held in the İstanbul 41st Criminal Court of First Instance. Reasoning that the elements of the offense did not occur, the court acquitted Batum of the “insulting the president” charge.

Rüstem Batum who lives abroad was represented in the court by Attorney Erselan Aktan. Taking the floor first, the prosecutor stated that she is ready to present her final opinion as the accusations.

Requesting that Batum be acquitted, the prosecutor argued: “The statements in question do not constitute elements of the offense as they are well within the boundaries of political criticism and freedom of expression and therefore do not qualify as statements offensive to one’s honor and reputation.”

Taking the floor after the prosecutor, attorney Aktan stated that they agree with the prosecutor’s opinion and they reiterate their previous defense: “This is a political criticism. The freedom of expression can be intervened with only if there is an acute danger and legitimate motivation. Statements uttered in 2015 and the content of that speech has nothing to do with the Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code. We request that Batum be acquitted taking into account the Vedat Şorli judgment of the ECtHR.” 

Announcing its decision without a break, the court acquitted Rüstem Batum on the grounds that the elements of the offense Batum was charged with did not occur. The court also decided to remove the arrest warrant issued against Batum without waiting for the finalization of the verdict.

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