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Teenager sentenced to community service for insulting prime minister

(BIANET/IFEX) - While one Bursa court has punished a teenager for "insulting a civil servant on duty", another Bursa court has acquitted eight people for using similar slogans.

On 31 July, the 2nd Bursa Children's Court found a 17-year-old, identified only as O.K., guilty of "insulting a civil servant on duty", for using the slogan "You are the lightbulb, Tayyip" in reference to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's party's emblem of a lightbulb, as well as the slogan, "First religious, then liberal, selling education".

O.K. was with other students and teachers protesting against the central university exam (ÖSS) and the government's education policies.

Because of his age, the Bursa 4th Criminal Court of Peace separated his case from that of the others on 20 August 2008 and sent it to the children's court.

O.K. has now been sentenced to community service for three months and 26 days.

He was first sentenced to 7 months and 23 days' imprisonment, but because of his age, lack of previous convictions and the fact that he worked with computers and design, he was sentenced to working for a institution serving the public.

The court evaluated the slogans recorded by the police as a crime. O.K.'s lawyer, Firat Gündogan told BIANET that they appealed against the sentence the same day. "We hope to get a positive result at the Supreme Court of Appeals. Otherwise, there may be hundreds of court cases against protesters in Bursa on Labour Day or other demonstrations. This seems to be the trend, which is worrying."

On 17 June, the Bursa 1st Criminal Court of Peace acquitted eight members of the People's Houses and trade unionists, who had expressed their protest against university fees at a press conference and shouted the slogan "Lightbulb Tayyip".

The court decreed that Murat Senol, Hüseyin Sevgi, Mehmet Emre Battal, Taylan Uztürk, Ibrahim Koyucular, Pinar Koyuncular, Ahmet Keskin and Onural Keskin did not commit a crime.

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