Press Freedom

The objection against the decision of non-prosecution for the police officers who violently detained journalist Bülent Kılıç is rejected

Foto: Hacı Bişkin - Gazete Duvar

The objection against the decision of non-prosecution for the police officers who violently detained Agence France-Presse (AFP) photojournalist Bülent Kılıç while he was covering the 19th Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride March on 26 June 26, was rejected by an Istanbul judge who found the non-prosecution decision to be “in accordance with procedure and the law.”

AFP reporter was violently taken into police custody in Beyoğlu’s Mis Street  while covering the 19th Istanbul Pride March which was planned to be held on 26 June 2021. The images of police officers stepping on Kılıç’s neck while his hands were cuffed behind his back had attracted wide public reaction. 

On 4 August 2021, the lawyers of the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) had filed a criminal complaint against two police officers whose identities were discovered and requested a lawsuit to be brought against them on “destruction of property” and “intentional injury through use of excessive force.”

Arguing that the police officers against whom a criminal complaint was filed, acted within the limits set by the Law No. 2559 on the Duties and Discretion of the Police, prosecutor Aysel Daşkıran had decided not to prosecute the police officers

On 16 March 2023, the same day in which she decided not to prosecute the police officers, prosecutor Daşkıran indicted journalist Kılıç with “prevention of public duty” and “publicly insulting a public official because of his duty.” The indictment was accepted by the Istanbul 19th Criminal Court of First Instance.

‘The decision prosecutor’s decision is against procedure and law’

On 20 March 2023, Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) lawyers appealed the prosecutor’s decision of non-prosecution. Bülent Kılıç’s lawyers emphasized that Kılıç was subjected to mistreatment amounting to torture while trying to perform his profession on the day of the incident, and that the prosecutor failed to conduct an effective investigation and take the seriousness of the allegations against the police officers into consideration.

MLSA lawyers emphasized in their petition that the carelessness on the part of the prosecutor can also be seen in the text of the prosecutor’s decision. The petition stated: “The decision of non-prosecution is unlawful as the prosecutor disregarded the submitted medical reports, crime scene reports and the decision of Istanbul 8th Administrative Court. The prosecutor’s decision which only mentioned ‘intentional injury’ is also against procedure and law as the prosecutor dismissed our complaint without considering other offenses committed by the police officers.”

MLSA lawyers requested the non-prosecution decision to be revoked and a public lawsuit to be initiated against the police officers.

‘As it has been understood that the non-prosecution decision is in accordance with procedure and law…’

On 14 April 2023, the Istanbul 5th Peace Criminal Court rejected the appeal of Kılıç’s lawyers, disregarding the decisions of the Constitutional Court (AYM) in the applications of Gökhan Biçici, Erdal İmrek and Beyza Kural

The court justified its decision as follows: “It has been determined that there is no valid legal reason for changing the decision of non-prosecution and its underlying reasons, which are in accordance with the scope, procedure, and law of the investigation, and that the reasons stated in the appeal petition are not valid, and therefore, there is no reason for changing the decision at this stage.”

Ok: We will take it to the Constitutional Court

Arguing that the rejection of the appeal against the non-prosecution decision on general grounds is  unacceptable, MLSA Co- Director Veysel Ok stated that they will take the decision to the Constitutional Court: “The Constitutional Court has a strong case law to prevent impunity for violence against journalists, and that the rejection of the decision of non-prosecution without providing a tangible legal justification indicates why impunity has become a systematic and chronic problem. We will take this decision, which rewards violence against journalists with impunity, to the Constitutional Court.”

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