A criminal department of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has refused to uphold prison sentences handed down to several journalists and media staff in the Cumhuriyet newspaper case, sending the file back to the lower court for recommended acquittal.
The ruling recommended acquittal for Murat Sabuncu, Hikmet Çetinkaya, Orhan Erinç and Akın Atalay, who all received prison sentences longer than five years.
The court also recommended the acquittal of seven others including journalist Kadri Gürsel and cartoonist Musa Kart, whose files were previously upheld by a mid-level court of appeals as their sentences were shorter than five years.
Under normal circumstances, a petition for review for sentences of less than five years cannot be filed with the Supreme Court of Appeals.
The ruling ordered a retrial for journalist Ahmet Şık, who had received seven years, six months for allegedly aiding terrorist groups. The court said Şık’s sentence must be vacated and that he should instead be tried for spreading propaganda on behalf of terrorist groups and openly denigrating state institutions.
In April defendants Önder Çelik, Musa Kart, M. Kemal Güngör, Hakan Kara, Güray Öz and Emre İper, whose sentences were upheld, had turned themselves and were put in Kandıra Prison after the court ruled for the execution of their sentences.
A press freedom report by the Council of Europe recently named Turkey the world’s largest jailer of journalists.
The Cumhuriyet trial concluded with a total of 18 defendants, journalists as well as media executives and staff, being handed down various prison sentences. (SCF with turkishminute.com)