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Businessman sentenced after commenting on legal case

(BIANET/IFEX) - Businessman Ahmet Akyuz from Antalya was convicted after criticizing a Constitutional Court decision on a case involving the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Akyuz made the comment at a barbershop and a prosecutor who overheard the conversation filed a criminal complaint against him.

Appearing on the "Her sey" (Everything) program, hosted by Mirgun Cabas, on the Turkish news channel NTV, Akyuz said he was convicted despite the fact that two witnesses presented by the prosecutor had stated that they "had not heard any insult" and that "he did not insult anybody". The Antalya 2nd Magistrate Court handed down a 442-day prison sentence to Akyuz.

Akyuz commented on a news report on television which he had been watching at a barbershop on 30 July 2008. Public Prosecutor Umit Yasar Ozdemir, who was sitting next to the businessman, criticized him for what he said.

Akyuz, who runs a wholesale food business in Malatya (south-eastern Turkey), reportedly said, "Eleven individuals were going to destroy the near economic future. We made a narrow escape". However, Ozdemir apparently understood him to say "dishonourable" ('serefsiz') instead of "individual" ('sahis'), which led to a heated discussion.

Akyuz asked Ozdemir, "Who are you, sir?" and Ozdemir replied, "I am a Public Prosecutor and you are going to apologize to me. You called a member of the state's Constitutional Court dishonourable".

Ozdemir accused Akyuz of insult and reported him to the Antalya Public Prosecutor because the businessman had refused to apologize.

"Barbershops are places where any sort of topic is discussed," Akyuz said.

The sentence for "insult of a public official" was converted into a monetary fine of TL8,840 (approx. €4,300) and suspended for a probation period of five years, Akyuz explained.

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