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Private citizen acquitted of insulting prime minister

(BIANET/IFEX) - The Kadıköy (Istanbul) 4th Magistrate Criminal Court acquitted 26-year old Alper Ateş who stood trial for addressing Prime Minister Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan with the curse "God damn you". The court reached the decision in the first hearing of the case on 10 March 2010.

Ateş was indicted under article 125 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) for saying, "Last week we could still brew our tea at home since we had a gas bottle. Now, the gas is finished and I am not ashamed to say: I go to my friend to take a bath. This is the way we live. The only thing I want to say is this: Tayyip, God damn you!"

Ateş uttered these words when he rose to speak as part of a public campaign called "The people's podium", organized by the Community Centres between 27 December and 3 January in central Kadıköy, a busy district on Istanbul's Anatolian side.

Ateş's lawyer, Erkut Şahin, defended his client by quoting a news article published in the "Radikal" newspaper on 20 December 2009.

The article was about Ekrem Pakdemirli from Motherland Party (ANAP), who called then-President Süleyman Demirel "the fat guy from Çankaya". Pakdemirli was initially sentenced to pay a heavy fine as compensation. Şahin pointed out that, according to the article, those words had been accepted as part of "freedom of thought" by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2005.

The article also mentioned the case of Süleyman Yurtdaş, who stood trial at the Magistrate Criminal Court of Tunceli in eastern Turkey for his slogan "Erdoğan is a murderer". Yurtdaş was acquitted by the influence of the same decision of the ECHR.

Ateş said that he did not insult the prime minister but "depicted his own living conditions". Erdoğan's lawyer Muammer Cemaloğlu demanded to launch an investigation into the suspect but the court acquitted Ateş, saying that the defendant did not commit a crime.

High school student M.B.G., who made a similar speech in the course of the same organization, will have to appear at court for the second time on 5 April. The precedent set by Ateş's acquittal will be presented to the court as evidence.

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