Turkish top court orders retrial for captain expelled over ‘Game of Thrones’ screening

Turkish top court orders retrial for captain expelled over ‘Game of Thrones’ screening

Turkish top court orders retrial for captain expelled over ‘Game of Thrones’ screening Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ordered the retrial of an expelled captain over the screening of an episode of “Game of Thrones,” daily Habertürk has reported. 

Cpt. İskender Gülbahar was expelled for screening the episodes of the hit TV series at the Maltepe Military High School in the western province of İzmir. 

Turkey’s Supreme Military Administrative Court (AYİM) previously overruled the decision to expel Gülbahar, stating that the ruling was contrary to the law, but the decision was objected to by the Turkish Defense Ministry, and Gülbahar was expelled as a result. He then made an individual application to the Constitutional Court, which ordered a retrial. 

The top court said Gülbahar was not tried fairly and that his right to a fair trial has been violated. The Constitutional Court later returned the file to the AYİM. 

Four army officers were expelled from the army in August 2012 for screening the TV series as part of an English class at İzmir’s Maltepe Academy, after a two-stage trial process. The charges were initially dismissed by a military prosecutor before a Defense Ministry instruction decision reintroduced the charges. 

Officers were alleged to have “insulted Turkishness” as a group depicted in the show were said to be portraying Turkish people. “Even though it is not directly said, it is easily understood by the audience [that the characters are portraying Turks],” the report stated.

The final report, released by a committee of instructors, claimed the series contained “pornographic elements” and “perverted and violent methods of sexual intercourse.” The report also mentioned that the show encouraged alcohol consumption.  

Three of the four expelled officers had already started retirement proceedings before the investigation was launched, which rendered the expulsion void, but Gülbahar was forced out, prompting him to reapply to the AYİM for an appeal. 

A majority in the court ruled in favor of Gülbahar, stating that the previous ruling lacked a basis in legal principles and failed to apply a proportional punishment for the deed. 

“Our institution has accepted that ‘Game of Thrones,’ despite being aired on national TV channels, should not be screened in classes. Moral values and discipline are of great value to military personnel. However, forcing an individual out of the Armed Forces without considering the quality and the quantity of the move is not possible,” the court said.

The court added that the decision was “against the public good, disproportionate and in violation of the principle of equality.”