Kazım Kızıl – “Depriving of exercising certain rights” and “Publicy Insulting the President” Trial

Documentarian and videos journalist Kazım Kızı was taken into custody on April 17, 2017, at the demonstrations organised by a group of university students in Bornova province of İzmir protesting the constitutional referendum on April 16, 2017.

On April 21, 2017 he was accused of, and arrested for “opposing the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations”. A backtrack search regarding his social media posts had been made. He was sent to Menemen Prison.

The indictment was prepared on May 30, 2017.

It was claimed that at the demonstration on April 17, 2017, some placards were carried. The indictment claimed that the protesters “resisted the warnings of the police”. It was stated that along with Kızıl, 11 others were taken into custody. Here, too, no other allegations regarding Kızıl were made.

It was understood from the indictment that the search on Kızıl’s social media accounts, was made after he was in custody. 5 posts made between March 31 and December 3, 2016 were put among the evidence.

The post where he shared a foreign newspaper’s clipping with the headline “dictator Erdoğan” on his personal account with the words “After our roads bridges, free press and Islamic Divinity Schools, these bastards are now envious of our doctor! #SincerelySpeaking :/“ was included in the indictment.

The post where he shared a photo of Erdoğan and an image that said “President Erdoğan: we redefined democracy” with the comment “and we called it #Fascism…” was also a subject matter.

Kızıl, with these posts, was accused of “publicly insulting the president. According to the Turkish Penal Code, in order to open a lawsuit against an individual for this accusation, a permission from the Ministry of Justice is required. The indictment stated that the necessary ministerial permission was granted on May 17, 2017.

The indictment accused Kızıl of “participating in unlawful assembly or demonstrations and resisting despite the warning or use of force” according to the article 32/1 of the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations. Within this scope he faced from six months to three years of imprisonment.

Kızıl was also accused of “publicly insulting the President in a successive manner” according to the articles 229 and 43 of the Turkish Penal Code. Within this scope he was requested to be sentenced to, from one year five months 15 days to 8 years 2 months of imprisonment.

Therefore Kızıl was, in total, requested to be sentenced to, from one year 11 months 15 days to 11 years two months of imprisonment. Kızıl was also equested to be “bereaved of specific rights” according to the article 53 Turkish Penal Code.

Trial of 24 people, along with documentarian and video journalist Kazım Kızıl, started with the first hearing held at İzmir 33rd Criminal Court of First Instance on July 10, 2017.

Kazım Kızıl was brought to the hearing from Menemen Prison where he was being kept. Kızıl stated that he was following the demonstrations on April 17, 2017 with the purpose of making news.

Headlines of Kızıl’s defence argument was as follows:

“After receiving the news of the demonstration in social media on April 17, I went to Bornova Küçükpark, in order to follow the news. I located myself in a corner along with other journalists to see the whole area. I was recording with the press card hanging around my neck. Then police started intercepting and I continued to roll. At that moment a police officer came straight to me, tried to twist my arm and take me into custody. I said I was with press, but the arrest continued. I was taken to the car by being pushed on my neck to be taken to the police station in 200-300 meters distance. I even heard a police office shouting at another officer saying ‘Did you arrest Kazım too?”

Kızıl said he found out about the accusations regarding his social media posts at the courthouse, nothing was asked him about that at the prosecutor’s office and that was why he had not said anything against those allegations. He stated that he “believed evidences were created after he was arrested”. He said his rights of a fair trial and defence were limited. None of his posts were personal and they were aimed at the office of Presidency.

Kızıl was released to pend trial. He left prison after 80 days of incarceration.

Ninth hearing of the trial was held on December 19, 2018. At the previous hearings, court requested an expert report on whether police had warned the protesters and asked them to “break up the protest”. The hearing was postponed to pend for the expert report.

10th hearing of the case was held on March 18, 2019. Kızıl was absent. Judge stated that the previously requested expert report had arrived. Report said there was no evidence or footage of Kızıl where he resisted the police warnings to “break up the protest”.

11th hearing of the case was held on June 19, 2019. Court ruled to acquit Kızıl of “participating in unlawful assembly or demonstrations and resisting despite the warning or use of force”. However the court sentenced him to one year three months 16 days of imprisonment for the accusation of “publicly insulting the President in a successive manner.

As he had denied during the trial process, announcement of the decision of Kızıl was not deferred. Likewise, the sentence was not deferred. Court based both of the decisions on the reasoning that “considering his personality that tends to commit crime, a positive opinion that he would hesitate committing further crimes was not formed”.

Appeal examination of the decision is ongoing.

Press in Arrest is a database, monitoring, documentation and collective memory study of Press Research Association.
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