High school student convicted for insulting Erdoğan
A high school student in Turkey was sentenced to 12 months in prison on Feb. 15 for insulting then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The incident took place as the student, identified only by the initials U.H.C., attended a demonstration in Attalos Square in the southern province of Antalya, in protest at a case involving two other high school students who had been charged after protesting against Erdoğan.
U.H.C., who is a member of the high school group “Young Hopes,” gathered with the group on June 15, 2014 in Attalos Square. They were protesting against the charging of two high school students who had gathered at the same square on Jan. 24, 2014 to issue Erdoğan with a satirical “report card,” after the shooting of Berkin Elvan with a tear gas canister during the Gezi Park protests of June 2013. The charges against the two students who had participated in the earlier protest were later dismissed by the prosecutor in the case.
However, during the final hearing of U.H.C.’s case at the Antalya 2nd Juvenile Court on Feb. 15, he was sentenced to 12 months in prison on charges of “insulting a public official.” The court also ruled to increase the sentence from 12 to 14 months due to the defendant’s behavior during the trial, but the sentence was later reduced to 7 months and 23 days because H.U.C. is a minor. Because there have been no previous criminal charges against H.U.C., the court then decided to put him on probation for three years.
Prosecutor warned H.U.C.’s mother
H.U.C.’s mother has said they will appeal the court’s decision.
“If there is freedom of expression in this country, no one should be convicted just because they criticize someone or chant against someone,” she said.
“The prosecutor told me to keep an eye on my child for the next three years and prevent him from committing a crime, or they will have to charge him with the same criminal act. My response is that hopefully we will not have to face injustice over this three-year period and my child won’t have to protest,” she added.
Lawyer: He did not commit a crime
H.U.C.’s lawyer, Hakan Evcin, said they will appeal the court’s decision within the next seven days, saying he had committed no crime and had only used his right to express opposition.
Meanwhile, H.U.C.’s father, who works as a teacher in Antalya province, is also currently on trial, facing charges of “insulting a public official” after participating in protests organized after Berkin Elvan’s death.