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Court dismisses lawsuit against journalist

(BIANET/IFEX) - 8 September 2010 - A claim for damages case filed against Nurgun Balcioglu, a journalist for the "Gaziantep Sabah" newspaper, has been rejected. Balcıoglu was tried for criticising retired judge Zekeriya Dilsizoglu, who had said, "Of every 10,000 murder trials, 9,000 are due to women." Balcioglu was initially sentenced to pay compensation in the amount of TL 20,000 (approx. €10,000). The Court of Appeals 4th Law Chamber reversed the ruling and the local court complied with the decision. As a result, the case was dismissed.

On 9 June 2009, the Court of Appeals decided that the Bakirkoy 8th Criminal Court of First Instance "should have rejected the case completely". The court retried the case and, on 17 June 2010, decided to dismiss it.

Balcioglu, the publication director for "Gaziantep Sabah", talked to BIANET after the dismissal of the case. "It never even came to my mind that I would lose this case. I believed from my heart in the legitimacy of my writing and I still stand by my words today. If I had lost this case I would have applied to the European Court of Human Rights," the journalist said.

On 13 March 2008, the local court partially accepted the original compensation claim for TL 100,000 (approx. €50,000) and sentenced Balcioglu and the daily's editor-in-chief, Fethullah Kapkapci, to pay TL 20,000.

The Court of Appeals decreed: "The statement of the complainant lacked scientific proof, was based on a subjective opinion and was an offence against women with its generalisation. The right to harsh criticism emerging from the statement as voiced in the writings of the defendant must be accepted". The court decided that the criticism voiced by the defendant remained within legal limits and that she should not be required to pay compensation.

The court unanimously decided to overturn the decision of the local court.

In a article entitled "Is this judge the one?", which made the headlines on 15 February 2007, Balcioglu criticised Dilsizoglu as an "enemy of women" because he had not even mentioned one name of the two wives in the obituary notice for his brother, which was published in several newspapers.

Balcioglu wrote, "An interesting profile of the judge emerged after dentist I. Hakki Dilsizoglu was stabbed four times (. . .) Dilsizoglu was the brother of Zekeriya Dilsizoglu, a retired judge of the Bakirkoy (Istanbul) High Criminal Court Presidency. At his funeral, Zekeriya Dilsizoglu made an unfortunate statement to journalists, saying, 'I was the president of the High Criminal Court for 15 years. We ruled on maybe 10,000 murder cases. We found that 9,000 of them were committed due to women.'"

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