Press Freedom

‘Prevention of public duty’ and ‘insulting a public official’: A lawsuit has been brought against AFP reporter Bülent Kılıç

Foto: Hacı Bişkin - Gazete Duvar
MURAT KÖK*

A lawsuit on “prevention of public duty” and “openly insulting a public official because of his duty” charges has been brought against Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporter Bülent Kılıç who was violently taken into custody while covering the 19th Istanbul Pride March which was planned to be held on 26 June 2021. 

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.”

‘Suspects’ become the ‘complainants’

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 decided not to prosecute the police officers. In a decision of non-prosecution dated 16 March 2023, prosecutor Daşkıran further argued that there is no definite and legal evidence to support that the police officers intentionally threw Kılıç’s camera on the ground and that they destroyed his property on purpose.

On the same day, prosecutor Daşkıran indicted journalist Kılıç with “prevention of public duty” and “publicly insulting a public official because of his duty” and cited the statements of two police officers against whom MLSA lawyers filed a criminal complaint. 

Arguing that the journalist had prevented the police from doing their jobs by “trying to hit them with the camera in his hand” and by “insulting them repeatedly”, prosecutor requested Kılıç to be sentenced. The prosecutor disregarded the decision of the Istanbul 8th Administrative Court from 8 December 2022, in which the court had ruled that the police officers who obstructed Kılıç used “disproportionate force.” 

First hearing is on October 26th

Accepting the indictment, the Istanbul 19th Criminal Court of First Instance held the preliminary proceedings on 4 April 2023. The court decided to hold the first hearing on 26 October 2023, at 9.40 am.

The court also decided to hear the police officers who had signed the custody record on 26 June 2021 as witnesses.

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