Uğur Güç - “Publicy Insulting the Public Official” Trial

Writer Işıl Özgentürk was sentenced for her article “Yeni Kuşak Türbanlılar (Next-Gen Turbaned) published at Cumhuriyet Daily on January 13, 2019. The sentencing was made news by Sol News website where journalist Uğur Güç worked as the managing editor, on July 4, 2019 with an article entitled “Court rules in favour of the foul-mouthed attorney: Işıl Özgentürk sentenced”.

Erdoğan’s attorney İnal filed a complaint against Uğur Güç on the grounds that the article had called him “foul-mouthed attorney”.

Press Related Crimes Investigation Bureau of Istanbul Anatolian Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against Güç. Güç, in his defence statement at the prosecutor’s office said the article did not intend to insult.

Güç hakkındaki iddianame İstanbul Anadolu Cumhuriyet Savcılığı tarafından 4 Ekim 2019 tarihinde tamamlandı. Cumhurbaşkanı Tayyip Erdoğan’ın avukatı Mustafa Doğan İnal, iddianamede “şikayetçi” olarak yer aldı.

One-and-a-half-page indictment did not include the content of the subject matter article. It was stated that the article “seemed to be addressing Mustafa Doğan İnal”.

Prosecutor claimed that the article “was made with the intention of insult”. Claimed that this article “could not be considered within the scope of freedom of thought and expression”. The indictment stated that President Tayyip Edoğan’s attorney Mustafa Doğan İnal was an attorney and “the duty of attorney was a public duty”.

The indictment accused Uğur Güç of “publicly insulting a public official due to his public duty through an audio, text or visual message” according to the article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code. He was requested to be sentenced to, from 1 year 2 months to 2 years 4 months of imprisonment.

Journalist Uğur Güç’s trial started with the first hearing at Istanbul Anatolian 29th Criminal Court of First Instance on February 11, 2020.

Güç, in his defence statement, said “calling a person foul-mouthed when the person swears was not an insult”. He requested the article to be considered within the scope of freedom of expression.

Güç said, “We made news of the words said towards a journalist in this case. Everything that was said at this hearing can be seen in the records. We used the word foul-mouthed. This is not an insult, I do not think that the word foul-mouthed is a swearword”.

He used the word “garbage” that he had used about Özkentürk’s article, at the hearing where she was sentenced, once again. İnal said:

“It’s a habit for Sol News, they only know about the human rights about themselves. This habit…. in the article Işıl Özgentürk called turbaned people ‘prostitutes”. Now I am calling this article ‘garbage’. They can write my name, but what about calling me ‘foul-mouthed attorney’. This is not a case of press freedom. This is not the first time, they have done it before, they have a systematic grudge against me. I opened lawsuits and won before”.

Özer Faruk Karagüzel, one of İnan’s attorneys, said “Swearing is forbidden in Islam. My client is a Muslim. Calling him ‘foul-mouthed’ is a big insult”.

Next hearing of the case was set to May 4, 2020. However the hearing was postponed due to the measures taken against “coronavirus” pandemic.

The third hearing took place on October 12th, 2020. The panel of judges had not changed. Güç attended the hearing alongside his lawyers Özge Demir and Pelin Pınar Kaya.

The hearing prosecutor submitted his opinion as to the accusations. In his judicial opinion, the prosecutor remarked that the words “foulmouthed lawyer”, which had provided the ground for the indictment for “insult”, ought to be evaluated as “vulgarity”, rather than “insult”, and demanded Güç’s acquittal.

Ümit Kutbay, the lawyer of the lawyer who filed the complaint against Güç, asked for extra time for his defense statement against the judicial opinion. The court accepted the request.

The fourth hearing was held on November 17th, 2020. The panel of judges had not changed. The defendant, journalist Uğur Güç did not attend the hearing. Güç, was represented by his lawyer Özgür Murat Büyük. Lawyer Ümit Kutbay represented the lawyer who filed the complaint against Güç.

In his previously submitted judicial opinion, the hearing prosecutor had demanded the acquittal of Güç. The court stated that lawyer Ümit Kutbay submitted a written petition against the judicial opinion. In the petition, Kutbay stated that they disagreed with the judicial opinion since the derogatory words in question went beyond “vulgarity” and constituted an offense. Stating that the lawyer who filed the complaint against Güç was “a public official”, Kutbay stated, “This is a crime of insult. Therefore, we request that the defendant be sentenced”.

Güç’s lawyer Özgür Murat Büyük had submitted a 12-page petition for defense, stating that the words in question did not constitute an insult, but on the contrary, criticized the swearwords pronounced by the complainant. Büyük requested Güç’s acquittal.

The court ruled to acquit Güç.

In the justified acquittal verdict, it was stated that “there was no tangible evidence that the crime in question was committed by the defendant”; however, in the judicial opinion, the prosecutor had requested an acquittal stating that “there was no tangible evidence for the crime”.



Uğur Güç

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