Case Monitoring

The ‘Girl with the red scarf’ Case: Prosecutor requested Cengiz Çandar to be sentenced


The prosecutor presented his final opinion in the case in which journalist and the Green Left Party parliamentary candidate Cengiz Çandar faces “praising an offense and an offender” charge because of a tweet he had shared on his personal account in 2017. Çandar who appeared before the court as soon as he returned to Turkey, denied the charges and requested his acquittal.

The trial of Cengiz Çandar whom MLSA represents in the court, continued today. Çandar stands trial because of his tweet he had shared on his personal account on 30 May 2017 in which he commemorated Ayşe Deniz Karacagil by saying “The girl with the red scarf, Gezi’s most heartwarming and smiling angel, fell to the ground in front of Raqqa and rose to the stars, burning our hearts once again.”

At the eighth hearing of the trial held on 22 November 2022, the court decided to separate the case file of Çandar who stood trial together with activist Kemal Işıktaş on the grounds that the rogatory letters issued to Sweden are yet to be responded to.

After the separation of the case files, the second hearing of Çandar’s trial was scheduled for April 11th. Accepting the requests of Çandar’s lawyers, the Istanbul 30th Criminal Court of First Instance held the second hearing today. Çandar attended the hearing together with his lawyers Veysel Ok and Merve Kurhan.

Çandar: I was moved as a father

After the identification process, Çandar started his defense by stating that he was abroad at the time of the tweet and did not even know the name of the person he was allegedly praising. He mentioned that he remembered Ayşe Deniz Karacagil when he saw the photo of her taken during the Gezi protests and continued: “As a father, I was moved by her father’s social media post, and I posted the cited tweet. The expressions ‘angel’ and ‘rose to the sky’ are actually words used by her father. It was a post I had shared purely for conscientious reasons. The person who was killed was in his early twenties and died while fighting against the terrorist organization known as ISIS, which Turkey also recognizes as a terrorist organization, in Raqqa. I wrote it under the impression of seeing someone at that age fall to the ground in that way and also considering her father’s statements.”

Çandar, stating “I did not have the intention to praise any offense or an offender. I expressed myself with conscientious feelings,” requested his acquittal and refused to accept the deferment of the pronouncement of the verdict (HAGB).

Lawyer Ok: The elements of the alleged offense did not occur

Agreeing with Çandar’s defense, lawyer Veysel Ok stated: “In order for the elements of the crime of ‘praising an offense and an offender’ to occur, there must be a final conviction decision regarding the person who was allegedly praised. It is necessary to investigate whether there is a finalized conviction regarding Ayşe Deniz Karacagil. We request an investigation on this matter. We will present our defense after the prosecution’s final opinion.”

The prosecution requested the rejection of lawyer Ok’s request, arguing that “the person who was killed, died during taking part in the organizational activities of the PKK/KCK terrorist organization in Syria.”

The judge, evaluating the requests of Çandar’s defense and the prosecution, issued an interim decision and rejected the request of Çandar’s lawyer, on the grounds that “It is known by the public that the person who was killed acted within the scope of the PKK/KCK terrorist organization, and there is no need for a final court decision on this matter.”

The prosecutor: ‘The defendant gave psychological support to the terrorist organization’

In his final opinion, the prosecutor claimed “clear and imminent danger”, the prosecutor requested Çandar to be sentenced. In his final opinion, the prosecutor emphasized that Çandar was a journalist at the time of the tweet cited in the indictment. 

In his final opinion, the prosecutor failed to acknowledge that the indictment against Çandar was filed in 2020 despite the fact the tweet was posted in 2017.

In his final opinion, the prosecutor argued: “Due to the fact that the deceased person was a member of the organization and died while taking part in the activities of the terrorist organization, together with other individuals the defendant praised the deceased in a way that attempted to glorify, justify, and legitimize the actions of the deceased who acted on behalf of the organization and participated in clashes. The defendant, who was a well-known name in the public as a journalist at the time of the incident, provided psychological support to PKK terrorist organization members and their activities, and this increased the reaction against the PKK terrorist organization in the eyes of the public. Considering that our country has been under the threat of terrorism for years and still continues to be so, and taking into account that the expressions used in the posts pose a clear and imminent danger to public order, it is understood that the defendant’s actions fall under the scope of Article 215/1 and 218 of the Turkish Penal Code, and it is requested on behalf of the public that the defendant be sentenced accordingly, and if convicted, be deprived of certain rights according to Article 53 of the Turkish Penal Code.”

After the prosecutor, Çandar’s lawyers requested additional time to prepare their arguments against the final opinion.

Accepting the defense’s request, the judge adjourned the trial until 16 May 2023.

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