All suspects acquitted in Hürriyet printing house attack

All suspects acquitted in Hürriyet printing house attack

Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARA
All suspects acquitted in Hürriyet printing house attack A total of 10 suspects who were charged with up to four years in prison over a Sept. 8, 2015, attack on daily Hürriyet’s printing house in the Turkish capital have been acquitted by an Ankara court. One of the suspects who was sentenced to one year in jail was also released, as his imprisonment was converted into a fine due to good conduct abatement. 

The case was initially filed against a total of 11 suspects, including one under the age 18, on charges of “damaging private property,” after the Doğan Printing Center was attacked on the evening of Sept. 8, 2015.

The final hearing was held on June 14, when the suspects pleaded not guilty and declined to compensate for the damage they inflicted while underlining their financial situation was inadequate to do so. 

The underage suspect, identified as R.K.A., who was being tried on charges of “damaging private property” and “taking part in [violent] demonstrations and marches” at a juvenile court, said he was in front of the printing center at the time of the event. 

“Some people came running and attacked the Hürriyet building with sticks, but I did not commit an attack. I chanted slogans with the head of the event but I did not throw a stone or anything similar. I did not damage objects,” he said, adding he was in no position to compensate the daily’s losses.

One of the 10 suspects, identified as A.G., also narrated the attack, saying he disabled the CCTV cameras and dismantled letters from the printing house’s signboard. 

“I noticed the camera [CCTV] so I ran towards it and pulled it down with my hand to prevent it from recording footage. At this initial stage and later, they were stoning the [security] cabin and were dismantling letters from a what I believe to be a brass plate with ‘Doğan Print Center’ imprinted on it,” A.G. said in his testimony.  

Another acquitted suspect, identified as E.A., also admitted to having thrown a stone at the building “with the heat of the crowd.”

A suspect identified as O.A. was the only one to be sentenced to jail for damaging company property appropriated for public service. 

O.A. was initially sentenced to a year in jail, which was later reduced to 10 months in jail with good conduct abatement.

The conviction was later converted into a fine of 6,000 Turkish Liras (around $2,000). The amount is set to be collected in 24 instalments. 

In his testimony, O.A. admitted to stoning the security cabin but denied premeditating the attack, claiming to have “acted emotionally.”

The attacks on the printing house came amid a series of attacks against Hürriyet’s office buildings in Istanbul and Ankara in early September 2015.

Hürriyet’s Istanbul headquarters and Ankara offices were pelted with stones by club-wielding protesters on Sept. 8, 2015, less than 48 hours after a similar attack by a group led by Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Abdurrahim Boynukalın, who delivered a fiery speech at the site.

Shortly before the attacks, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had renewed his tough public criticism of Hürriyet, accusing it of “distorting” his words.

Finally, on Oct. 1, 2015, well-known Hürriyet columnist Ahmet Hakan was attacked outside of his home in Istanbul’s Şişli district by four perpetrators, including members of the AKP.