Court of cassation overturns order for Kılıçdaroğlu to pay fine over 'Zarrab insult'
The Court of Cassation has overturned an Istanbul court’s decision ordering main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to pay 5,000 Turkish Liras in compensation for "insulting" Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab in 2014, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Feb. 1.
Kılıçdaroğlu had called Zarrab – who last year testified for U.S. prosecutors and pleaded guilty to charges of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran – a “scammer” during a CHP group meeting in Ankara on April 22, 2014.
The Court of Cassation in its Dec. 19, 2017 dated ruling said Kılıçdaroğlu’s comments were of “public interest” as they were “related to issues concerning the public.”
“It is understood that he [Kılıçdaroğlu] made evaluations and comments within the public’s right to information act; his remarks and statements demonstrate a quality of criticism in the context of freedom of speech and do not constitute an attack on personal rights,” the ruling reportedly said.
Additionally, another lawsuit was filed against Kılıçdaroğlu for his comments on July 8, 2014 calling Zarrab a “state robber” and “bribe giver.” The Istanbul 25th High Criminal Court had dismissed the case, prompting Zarrab’s lawyers to take the case to the Court of Cassation with a demand to receive compensation for the CHP leader’s remarks. The Court of Cassation, however, again ruled in favor of Kılıçdaroğlu, approving the Istanbul court’s ruling, Cumhuriyet said.
Zarrab’s name was involved in Turkey’s Dec. 17-25, 2013 corruption probes, which also embroiled four former ministers and other state officials. Zarrab was accused of paying bribes to senior government figures, but eventually the charges were quashed by the government, which said the probe was masterminded by followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.