Local court dismisses President Erdoğan’s appeal against opposition head

Local court dismisses President Erdoğan’s appeal against opposition head

Mesut Hasan Benli - ANKARA
Local court dismisses President Erdoğan’s appeal against opposition head

Leader of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, delivers a speech during an CHP meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara, on January 19, 2016. / AFP / ADEM ALTAN

A local court in the Turkish capital Ankara has rejected a complaint made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for calling him “baş çalan” (prime thief) and “hırsız” (thief).

Erdoğan had applied to the court to order Kılıçdaroğlu to pay 200,000 Turkish Liras in compensation for non-pecuniary damages.

“Politics should not be turned into such environment. They are setting a bad example for our children,” Judge Leyla Kundakçı of the Ankara 7th Civil Court of First Instance was quoted as saying during a conversation with lawyers after announcing her ruling on Jan. 21. “But the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are obvious.”

“A prime thief, a thief cannot be prime minister,” Kılıçdaroğlu had said in February 2014, when President Erdoğan was still serving as the prime minister before being elected as president in August 2014.

Erdoğan took the CHP head to court demanding a compensation payment of 200,000 Turkish Liras over the remarks, arguing that they amounted to an insulting “attack on his personal rights.”

“The attack, which directly targeted his personal rights, is heavy and unfair. ‘Prime thief’ and ‘thief’ are concrete criminal charges that cannot be accepted within freedom of expression and the right to political criticism,” Erdoğan’s lawyers said.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s defense lawyer said the remarks referred to the corruption scandal that was embroiling the government at the time. 

“The client shared his critical opinions and information on indisputable topical issues, addressing corruption and bribery involving government members,” the lawyer said, in reference to the corruption probes of Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013 that involved 53 suspects, including former ministers’ sons, the former manager of Halkbank, and a controversial Iranian-Azeri businessman.

Earlier this week, Erdoğan took Kılıçdaroğlu to court twice for remarks describing Erdoğan as a “sham dictator,” demanding non-pecuniary damages amounting to 100,000 liras in each case.