Caricature Put on Trial for Insulting President Erdoğan Acquitted in Cyprus

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  • May 17, 2019
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The ‘Caricature’ case filed against Chief Editor of Cyprus-based Afrika newspaper Şener Levent and Director Ali Osman Tabak due to a collage published on the newspaper on December 8, 2017 has been concluded.

The court has ruled that the visual at issue does not include an insult to President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and does not harm the relationships between Cyprus and Turkey. Being tried for insulting Erdoğan, Levent and Tabak have been acquitted.

On the visual at issue, there is an antique sculpture in front of Greece’s flag and this sculpture has been placed as if it was urinating on President Erdoğan’s head. The text on the visual reads that “From the Greek eye…”

Because of this visual, the personnel of Afrika newspaper were faced with an attempt of lynching on January 22, 2018.

Two countries did not grow away from each other

In the ‘Caricature’ trial continuing over a year now, Nicosia (Lefkoşa) District Court has ruled that this visual does not include an insult towards Erdoğan and it does not destroy the relationships of the two countries.

In the final lawsuit, the Presiding Judge has stated that there is not a concrete expression in terms of negative relationships of these two countries. In the verdict of the court, the Judge has referred to the verdicts of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and stated that politicians should tolerate criticisms, adding that though this visual is inciting, it narrates the perspective of Greek citizens towards people from Turkey through irony.

Levent: It is an historic verdict

Chief Editor Şener Levent has said in his press statement after the hearing that the court has given a very important verdict and if the case had been heard in Turkey, the result could surely be very different.

Levent has stated that after they published the visual, then Ambassador of Republic of Turkey Derya Kanbay filed a complaint to the police against them and continued his speech as follows:

“In our courts, a collage, a caricature trial has been heard for the very first time. It was a trial that we have been judged on the ground that we insulted Erdoğan and that we drove a wage between the two countries. The case has been heard like a murder trial.

“The prosecutor’s office brought 25 and we brought 14 witnesses to the court. Police brought here the academics that they gathered from universities. These academics expressed the opinion that we insulted the President of the Republic of Turkey.

‘This verdict is a kilometer stone for the struggle that Cyprus has been giving on its route to gain its own will’

“This verdict reveals that they are wrong. In my opinion, this verdict is a kilometer stone for the independence of the Cypriot Turks and for the struggle given on the route of free will since 1974.

“It is important in the sense that it reveals the independence of our jurisdiction which is not similar to the one in Turkey at all.

“If this case had been heard in Turkey, we would see that the result could be very different but here is Cyprus. We are Cypriots. We are the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and hence the citizens of the European Union.

“Here is not Turkey but the European Union. In my opinion, this verdict of the court will be a turning point for the struggle of our society to gain its free will. This verdict is about not only us but also a whole society of Cypriot Turks.” (HA/TY/SD)