The Turkish Constitutional Court (AYM) has overturned the imprisonment of journalist Özgür Boğatekin, underscoring a significant judicial discrepancy. The AYM pointed out that the first-instance court had opted to penalise Boğatekin despite recognising that he had not committed any illegal act.
Boğatekin, a journalist for the Gerger Fırat Newspaper, faced legal challenges following his critical articles and columns about Ömer Bilgin, the former district governor of Gerger. These writings, which included pointed critiques and allegations regarding the misuse of authority and public funds, led to a criminal complaint by Bilgin in 2013.
After a series of legal proceedings, the initial ruling by the lower court sentenced Boğatekin to one year and 15 days in prison. This sentence was later upheld by the Court of Cassation. However, Boğatekin appealed this decision to the AYM.
In its ruling, the AYM emphasised the contradiction inherent in the lower court’s decision. While acknowledging that Boğatekin had not engaged in any illegal activity through his journalistic work, the court still proceeded to issue a punitive sentence. This decision by the first-instance court was scrutinised for its implications on freedom of expression and the press.
Furthermore, the AYM’s ruling included a directive for a retrial, and it also awarded Boğatekin 30,000 Turkish Liras in moral damages. This outcome not only rectifies the situation for Boğatekin but also sets a precedent for future cases where the freedom of the press may be in contention.