Istanbul court upholds jail term for Turkish actress over ‘insulting Erdoğan’
An Istanbul regional court ruled 11 months and 20 days in prison for Turkish singer and actress Zuhal Olcay for “insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan” and postponed the sentence in a hearing held on July 12.
The higher court first revoked the decision to sentence Olcay to 10 months in jail, ruled previously by the 46th Criminal Court of Peace, and increased the sentence to one year and two months before reducing the sentence over good behavior.
Despite Olcay’s calls for abatement or a fine instead of a prison sentence, she received the jail term as the court ruled she had “purposefully insulted the president.”
The performer’s jail sentence was postponed and Olcay was subjected to one year and six months of probation, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Investigation launched over lyrics
A lawsuit was filed against Olcay for “insulting” Erdoğan during a concert last year, with the prosecutor seeking a four-year prison sentence for the singer.
The indictment prepared by the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office said a citizen told police Olcay had made an insulting hand gesture about Erdoğan during a concert in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul on Aug. 5, 2016. An investigation was subsequently launched and footage from the concert was examined, Anadolu Agency reported on Dec. 12, 2017.
Olcay was also accused of revising lyrics to the song “Boş Vermişim Dünyayı” (I Let Go of the World) to criticize Erdoğan, devising a hand-gesture to accompany the melody. According to the footage, the revised lyrics say: “Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie. Life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream.’”
In her testimony, Olcay reportedly said she revised the lyrics because the president’s name fit the rhyme scheme and she “did not have any ulterior or insulting motive.”
The singer also said the hand gesture had targeted an audience member in the front row after they had made a negative comment.