Women’s rights activist acquitted of charges of insulting former minister

Activist Didar Gül

A member of a women’s rights group who stood trial on charges of insulting a former interior minister has been acquitted, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Mezopotamya news agency.

Didar Gül, a member of the Mor Dayanışma women’s rights group, was on trial due to remarks she made in a press statement regarding the prison sentence handed down to a man who was convicted of killing a pro-Kurdish party employee in İzmir.

The murder was committed during the term in office of former interior minister Süleyman Soylu.

Gül referred to Soylu as the “minister of criminal affairs” in the statement, held him responsible for the 2021 murder of Deniz Poyraz, 38, who worked in the İzmir office of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and said the minister would stand trial for not taking the necessary measures to prevent the murder.

Gül made the remarks about the minister in December 2022, when a court handed down an aggravated life sentence and an additional nine years to the prime suspect in the murder of Poyraz.

The İzmir court said during Tuesday’s hearing that Gül’s remarks about the former minister were within the limits of the freedom of expression and ruled for her acquittal.

It is rare for Turkish courts to render such decisions in insult cases against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and members of his government. The ruling comes at a time when Soylu has lost his popularity in the government due to claims about his involvement in criminal activities during his term in office.

President Erdoğan replaced Soylu with Ali Yerlikaya in the new cabinet he announced in June following his re-election in the presidential election in May.

Soylu was elected to parliament in the May general election as a Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker and enjoys parliamentary immunity.

During Soylu’s tenure, Turkey faced allegations of involvement in international drug trafficking, primarily driven by Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker. In a series of dramatic videos in 2021, Peker accused Soylu and other high-ranking officials of protecting and facilitating cocaine trafficking networks.

Soylu was appointed interior minister shortly after a coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. He was the architect of the massive purge and arrest of thousands of non-loyalist citizens under bogus terrorism or coup charges.

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