Former Istanbul governor fined for defaming 17-year-old victim as ‘marginal’

Former Istanbul governor fined for defaming 17-year-old victim as ‘marginal’

ISTANBUL – İsmail Saymaz
Former Istanbul governor fined for defaming 17-year-old victim as ‘marginal’ Istanbul’s former governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu was fined 10,000 Turkish Liras for accusing a then-17-year-old Dilan Alp of being a member of “marginal groups” during the May Day protests of 2013, during which she was hit in the head by a tear gas canister shot by the police.

Istanbul’s 5th Administrative Court fined Mutlu 10,000 liras to be paid to Alp on grounds that as a public official, he had done wrong by accusing Alp of being a member of “marginal groups” and throwing Molotov cocktails via media. 

Alp was 17 years old on May 1, 2013 when she was hit by a tear-gas canister in Istanbul’s Tarlabaşı neighborhood. 

Mutlu’s statements caused huge outrage, as video footage showed Alp lying unconscious in front of an apartment where she was trying to take refuge after being hit, with tear gas continuing to rise from the canister in front of her face. The incident also laid the grounds for the Gezi protests that erupted later in the month, which met with violent police repression.

The Istanbul court’s decision mentioned a recommendation an ombudsman had issued on Nov. 5, 2013, in which he argued that Mutlu’s statement were unlawful both in national and international law. 

“Considering that Alp is a minor without any criminal record, Istanbul Gov. Mutlu’s press statements were such as to discredit [Alp’s] dignity and reputation,” the recommendation said.

“It is perceived that Alp’s name, who is under the age of 18, is being openly mentioned in the press statement and it is being stated that she is a member of an organization. It is far from apparent reality for [Mutlu] to express that Alp, who does not have any criminal records, is a member of an organization, namely a marginal group. As mentioned in international texts, until one is proven to be guilty, he is innocent,” the court’s decision said, citing the recommendation. 

Mutlu could be subject to trial for his statements after the Council of State opened the way for a preliminary investigation in August 2014.

Alp’s lawyers previously requested an internal investigation against Mutlu and the then-Istanbul police chief, Hüseyin Çapkın, but the Interior Ministry refused both of the complaints. 

The ministry’s decision was challenged by lawyers and lifted on July 2, 2014 by the Council of State, which ruled that Mutlu’s words were serious enough to “conduct a pre-investigation.”

Alp’s family has categorically denied that Alp was a member of any “marginal” organization.