Turkey found guilty in case of two journalists

Turkey found guilty in case of two journalists

Turkey found guilty in case of two journalists

The ECHR found journalists Abdurrahman Dilipak (pictured) and Hasan Karakaya to be right in their appeal against the original court verdict. AA photo

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Turkey breached the right to a fair hearing and freedom of expression in the cases of two journalists, Hasan Karakaya and Abdurrahman Dilipak. 

The case concerned a judgment against Karakaya and Dilipak for writing articles that were considered offensive toward a high-ranking army official. 

“The Court found that Dilipak and Karakaya had not been given the opportunity to participate in the civil proceedings against them or to defend their interests,” the decision read. It observed that the articles in question were part of a debate on the political role of the army and the remarks from the two journalists clearly fell within a matter of general interest. Lastly, the particularly significant award of damages against the two journalists was a sanction that would be likely to have a chilling effect, not only on the applicants themselves, but on all journalists.” 

Dilipak and Karakaya, who were both working at Islamist daily newspaper Akit in June 2000, wrote separate articles criticizing Admiral Güven Erkaya, former Commander-in-Chief of the Navy and member of the National Security Council, following his death. 

In September 2000, the deceased’s family brought civil proceedings to obtain damages from the two journalists. On Jan. 21, 2003, the court delivered a judgment in the absence of the defendants, who had never appeared at the hearings. They were ordered jointly to pay 30,000 Turkish Liras plus default interest for non-pecuniary damage. The court found that the applicants had overstepped the limits of criticism by personally attacking the deceased on account of his public duties. Dilipak and Karakaya appealed the decision, but their appeals were dismissed.