Van Muradiye Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against JinNews reporter Hikmet Tunç for May 13, 2019 article with the title “Muradiye waterfalls, once made present for 4 million 500 thousand TL’s, left to its fate”.
The indictment against Tunç was completed on April 2, 2020.
Tunç’s article had used the following phrases:
“Scandals were revealed in the report, prepared by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), after they took the municipality from the trustees at the local elections on March 31, following the inspections made at the waterfall. Restoration material was piled up at the entrance of the waterfall, and the companies had disappeared without finishing the project. According to the information stated in the report, Muradiye Waterfall landscaping and recreation area construction work negotiated tendering was held on August 1, 2018.“
According to the indictment, Yücel in his denunciation, claimed that Tunç and an alderman “had insulted him with the allegation of corruption”.
The indictment claimed that Tunç “had made statements that she claimed corruption without any evidence that is based on facts and no reliable evidence is presented, the limits of freedom of expression were severely violated”.
The trial against Hikmet Tunç, a reporter with the women’s news agency JinNews, was scheduled to begin with the first hearing on September 3rd, 2020 at Van 3. Criminal Court of First Instance.
However, one day before the hearing on October 20th, 2020, the court issued an interim verdict, stating that the legal proceedings will no longer continue in the form of face-to-face hearings. The court opted for the so-called “simple trial procedure”, and for the first time the said procedure was employed for a journalist standing trial.
The “simple trial procedure” was added to the judiciary system with the legal amendment generally known as the 1. Judiciary Reform Package, on October 24th, 2019. Accordingly, the legal proceedings concerning certain charges can be conducted on the basis of the case file, without holding a hearing.
With this interim verdict, the court asked Tunç and her lawyer to submit their defense statement and evidence in writing, in line with the “simple trial procedure”. It was stated that even if no written defense is submitted, the court can reach a verdict without holding a hearing. It was further indicated that a possible prison sentence would be reduced by one fourth as per the “simple trial procedure”. Accordingly, no hearing was held.
Hikmet Tunç and her lawyer accepted the “simple trial procedure”. Accordingly, once the shortcomings in the case file are remedied, the trial will continue and a verdict will be reached without hearings.
Press in Arrest is a database, monitoring, documentation and collective memory study of Press Research Association.
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