Musa Kart

Musa Kart is a caricaturist. His first sketch was published in 1974. He drew for the Cumhuriyet Newspaper for a long time. He was elected to the Executive Board of the Cumhuriyet Foundation in 2013. He resigned after the change of the Executive Board of the Cumhuriyet Foundation on Sept. 7, 2018. He was prosecuted in the Cumhuriyet trial and spent 9 months in prison. The 3 years and 6 months sentence was approved by the Court of Appeal. He was sent to prison again.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Cassation presented an opinion on the reversal of sentencing the defendants and added that they should be acquitted. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office demanded that a possible decision on the acquittal of the defendants after a retrial, those whose sentences were approved by the Court of Appeal should be put into account along with Musa Kart.

The Court of Cassation’s 16th Penal Chamber reversed the decision of the first instance court on Sept. 12, 2019. Upon the decision, Musa Kart was released from the Kandıra F Type Prison where he was detained for 4,5 months.

Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial

Upon the request of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Istanbul 5th Criminal Court of Peace ruled for an arrest warrant for the Cumhuriyet Newspaper’s managers and employees on Oct. 31, 2016. Musa Kart, who learned that there was an arrest warrant for him, surrendered himself to the Istanbul Police Headquarters.

After five days under custody, Musa Kart was detained by the Istanbul 9th Criminal Court of Peace on the grounds he presented a “risk to fleeing” on Nov. 5, 2015. Along with Kart, Murat Sabuncu, Turhan Günay, Bülent Utku, Güray Öz, Hakan Kara, Kadri Gürsel, Mustafa Kemal Güngör and Önder Çelik were detained because of their reports and articles.

In his testimony at the prosecutor’s office, Kart said, “I have been sketching caricatures for the past 35 years. I get inspired from the incidents that happen and sketch but now I feel like I am in a caricature. The prosecutor’s accusations are gross. The newspaper cannot have any affiliation with this organization [FETÖ]. The prosecutor is trying to create an opinion like this in Turkey. Please prevent that. We have nothing to do with them.”

While the journalists were still under custody, it was revealed that the prosecutor of the investigation, Murat İnam was prosecuted for 10 different crimes, including “attempting to abolish the Constitutional order” and “being a member of FETÖ” in the Court of Cassation’s 16th Penal Chamber. After that, Mehmet Akif Ekinci, the deputy of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor, and Yasemin Baba, a junior prosecutor with the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, were appointed to the file.

Mehmet Akif Ekinci, the deputy of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor, and Yasemin Baba, a junior prosecutor with the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued the Cumhuriyet indictment on April 3, 2017. The case against 19 people, including Musa Kart was opened. Kart was charged for “aiding and abetting an organization knowingly and willingly, although he does not belong to the structure of that organization” (TPC 220/7).

In the indictment, the prosecutor reiterated that Kart was chosen in place of Alev Coşkun in the elections of the Executive Board of the Cumhuriyet Foundation on Oct. 7, 2013. In the indictment, it was claimed that “Kart was also a member of the Executive Board of the Yenigün News Agency, that he was linked with the other defendants who came to power in 2013 and changed the editorial policy, that he has legal liability for the newspaper’s editorial policy.”

In the indictment, it was stated,“the illegal takeover of the Executive Board of the Cumhuriyet Foundation and the newspaper’s publications which were legitimizing the actions of armed terrorist organizations such as FETÖ/PDY, PKK/KCK, and DHKP-C.”

In the indictment Kart was charged for “aiding a terrorist organization” and among the accusations, Kart’s communication logs with six people, four of whom were subjected to a FETÖ investigation and two of whom were allegedly ByLock users [ByLock is a communication application regarded as evidence of FETÖ membership by the Turkish courts].

The first hearing of the trial was held in Çağlayan on July 24, 2017. In his defense, Kart said that “I repay all of the accusations.” He recalled that he sketched caricatures about how Fethullah Gülen organized within the state institutions and stressed that there wasn’t any concrete evidence against him.

The journalists’ first defenses took five days and ended on July 28, 2018. The court ruled to release Musa Kart, Hakan Kara [columnist], Önder Çelik [manager of the newspaper], Güray Öz [ombudsman of the Cumhuriyet newspaper], Turhan Günay [editor-in-chief of the Cumhuriyet newspaper’s supplement “Cumhuriyet Kitap”], Bülent Utku [one of the lawyers of the newspaper] and Mustafa Kemal Güngör [a lawyer and one of the board members of the Cumhuriyet Foundation].

The prosecutor Haci Hasan Bölükbaşı explained his opinion of the accusations on March 16, 2017. Prosecutor Bölükbaşı recommended charging Kart for “aiding and abetting an organization knowingly and willingly, although he does not belong to the structure of that organization” and “abuse of trust” and asked for a prison sentence.

The final hearing of the trial was held on April 24-25, 2017. Kart defended himself with the following:

“I have been drawing cartoons for nearly forty years. Over this time, I have witnessed many political periods and leaderships. I can say the period we are going through now is the one that is furthest from law and justice. After I was released from prison, I have shaken hands and embraced with many people. Not even one of them said, or could have said, ‘Your trial is not political.’ These courtrooms have witnessed the stance of honorable and honest people in the Cumhuriyet trial. Those who wanted some of their dirt to rub off on us over this process were unfortunately incapable of knowing that it would not stick on us. I have no request for myself in this judgment hearing. I must repeat that the image showing opposition journalists, politicians, academics and students in jail does not become my great country. With this trial, they stole months, even years of our lives. But our hope for the future of our country remains. They couldn’t steal it.”

The Verdict

The court reached a verdict on April 25, 2018. In its verdict, the court found Musa Kart guilty of “aiding and abetting the terrorist organizations PKK, DHKP-C, and FETÖ/PDY knowingly and willingly, although he does not belong to the structure of those organizations” and sentenced him to 3 years and 9 months of prison. Kart was acquitted of the “abuse of trust” charge.

In the reasoning of the verdict, the court presented the following as accepted evidence against Kart:

  • “The defendant replaced Alev Coşkun’s seat in the board of the foundation through the election on Oct. 7, 2013 and then in the period when the publications were aiding or worked in coordination with the terrorist organizations, Kart concerted with this cadre, didn’t try to prevent anything and continued to impose his will despite the [negative] reactions [from the readers].”

  • “The investigator who was appointed by the General Directorate for Foundation’s 1st District called the elections of October 7, 2013 invalid.”

At the conclusion and evaluation chapter of the reasoning of the verdict, it was stated, “After the defendant was chosen for the foundation’s board in 2013 and started to concert with Akın Atalay and his team, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper was changed and the editorial policy was shifted in a way that creates support and sympathy for terrorist organizations such as FETÖ/PDY and PKK/KCK, and conflicted with the foundation voucher, therefore, because of the defendant’s role in this process he was found guilty for TPC 220/7.”

The Appeal

The Istanbul Regional Court of Justice’s 3rd Penal Chamber approved the verdict on Feb. 18, 2019. The defense attorneys appealed the verdict to the Court of Cassation’s 16th Penal Chamber on Feb. 26, 2019.

The Istanbul Regional Court of Justice’s 3rd Penal Chamber conducted the Court of Appeal’s judicial proceedings. Musa Kart, Hakan Kara and Güray Tekin Öz was sent to prison again.

In the Court of Appeal’s decision, it was stated that there was no unlawfulness in the local court’s verdict regarding the procedure or the merits of the case. The Court of Appeal did not find any deficiencies either in the evidences or in the processing of the local court’s file. It ruled taht the local court’s actions were accurate and complied with the crime types that were prevenient by the law. It also ruled that the decisions of sentencing was lawful.

The Court of Cassation

The Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Court of Cassation presented an opinion on the reversal of sentencing the Cumhuriyet Newspaper’s other workers and added that they should be acquitted. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office demanded that a possible decision on the acquittal of the defendants after a retrial, those whose sentences were approved by the Court of Appeal should be put into account along with Musa Kart.

The Court of Cassation’s 16th Penal Chamber reversed the decision of sentencing the defendants. Along with Musa Kart, Hakan Kara and Güray Tekin Öz, who were also detained for 4,5 months at the Kandıra F Type Prison, were released.

In the reasoned decision of 16th Penal Chamber, it was stated that the principle of “defendant benefits from the suspicion” should be applied.

In the decision, the expressions about Cumhuriyet Newspaper as “known as its oppositional identity” were used. It was also stated that freedom of thought and expression should also include the ideas which are not approved by a part of the public.

In the decision, it was mentioned that for committing the crime of aiding an organization, there should be “an intention.” For detecting “an intention”, the existence of the organization and its members’ identites should also be known. There should be a concrete evidence for the crime of “aiding an organization intentionally and voluntarily.”

In the decision; it was mentioned that the fundamental condition of punishment is the detection of crime without any suspicion. Suspicious and ambigious allegations cannot be interpreted against the defendants for a decision of sentence.

It was emphasized in the decision that the court committees were mistaken about the assessment of evidences.

When the decision of the first instance court was reversed, Musa Kart, Hakan Kara and Güray Tekin Öz were availed of the decision.

In the decision, these expressions were used about Musa Kart, Hakan Kara and Güray Tekin Öz who were sentenced to less than 5 years in prison and thus could not appeal to the Court of Cassation:

“The defendants who are being prosecuted in the scope of the same case cannot be sentenced to different impositions of penalty. This hinders the manifestation of justice, decreases trust to the judicial authorities and contradicts with the principles of equality and fairness…”

The retrial of all the defendants will start at the Istanbul 27th Heavy Penal Court.

The Constitutional Court

Ten defendants, including Musa Kart, have applied to the Constitutional Court on Dec. 6, 2016. The concerned branch of the court sent Kart’s file to the General Assembly of the Court in July 2018.

The General Assembly of the Constitutional Court reached a decision on May 2, 2019 about Musa Kart, Hakan Kara and Güray Tekin Öz. The Constitutional Court ruled that there was no violation of personal liberty or security rights and the freedom of press or expression.

The Court pointed out that the journalist on trial were managers of the Cumhuriyet Newspaper. Therefore, they were influential in determining the publishing policy and they were responsible for the news reports and articles published by it.

Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial (Indictment)

Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial (Reasoned Judgement)

Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial (The Constitutional Court's Judgement)

Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial (Notification of the Prosecutor's Office (CoC))

Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial (The Court of Cassation's Judgement)

Cumhuriyet Newspaper Trial (The Court of Appeal's Judgement)