Hazal Ocak - Şahinbey Municipality “Suit For Damage”

Cumhuriyet Daily reporter Hazal Ocak’s article “Game of Tender in Şahinbey” was published on June 12, 2019.

The article claimed that the car park tender bidding organised by Gaziantep’s Şahinbey Municipality was rigged. It was argued that the winner of the tender bid was predetermined.

The article was based on the statements of Republican People’s Party’s council member of Şahinbey Municipality.

Şahinbey Municipality’s attorney Oğuzhan Çiftçi, following the article, filed an official complaint at Gaziantep Civil Court of First Instance.

Complaint claimed that “no illegal property, services or works were made put in tender bids”. It was claimed that the car park tender bid, too, was made in compliance with the laws. The complaint stated that:

“Even though the car park tender bid was made in compliance with the laws, baseless claims and statements were made solely to defame the municipality and gain profit, false statements were made news”

The complaint contained the claim that “these far-from-reality claims, have hurt the Municipality’s reputation as a legal entity”.

Şahinbey Municipality, with the complaint letter, requested 20 thousand Turkish Liras as immaterial compensation from Cumhuriyet Daily reporter Hazal Ocak and paper’s publishing company as well as the Şahinbey Municipality Council Member, who made the statements that were the base of the article.

Civil Courts of First Instance oversee the cases for immaterial compensation. Cases are seen through complaint letters; prosecutors do not prepare indictments and do not take part in the hearings.

The sixth hearing of the lawsuit for damages filed by Gaziantep’s Şahinbey Municipality against Cumhuriyet Newspaper’s reporter Hazal Ocak and its publishing company was held on October 14th, 2020 at Gaziantep 6. Civil Court of First Instance.

The lawyers of the parties did not attend the hearing. Previously, an expert had been consulted about the tenders covered by Ocak in her news story. The expert had duly submitted his report to the court. In this hearing, the court stated that the expert had submitted an additional report. The court ruled to forward this additional report to the parties, and requested them to draft their statements concerning this report in writing within two weeks.

The seventh hearing was held on November 25th, 2020. Ocak and his lawyers did not attend the hearing. The hearing was adjourned.

The trial will continue with the third hearing scheduled for March 3rd, 2021.

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