96-year-old woman without criminal liability prosecuted for 'insulting' Erdoğan

Turkish prosecutors have put a 96-year-old woman, exempt from criminal liability with a hospital report, on trial on charges of “insulting the President.” After a two-year-long prosecution process, the court ordered the implementation of security measures, citing the woman's “mental health.”

Duvar English

Turkish prosecutors have put a 96-year-old woman without criminal liability on trial for “insulting the President.” Aliye Yabansu is living in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa's Siverek district at a 20 square meters container, Mezopotamya news agency reported on Nov. 2.

The complaint against Yabansu was filed by a person known as M.İ. with the Şanlıurfa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. The charges concern the 96-year-old woman's remark in a video which was recorded and put on social media without her approval on Jan. 9, 2019.

The Siverek Chief Public Prosecutor's Office later prepared an indictment about the woman, claiming that she had “used remarks that can be offending to the President's honor and respectability.” The prosecutors demanded the implementation of "security measures on the grounds of the woman's mental health.”

During the final hearing of the case held on Dec. 1, 2020 at the Siverek 1st Penal Court of First Instance, Yabansu's lawyer said that her client was a 96-year-old patient confined to bed, her remarks did not constitute as an insult against the President, and the addressee of the video was not clear. 

The prosecutors told the court that Yabansu had presented a hospital report exempting her from criminal liability and demanded the implementation of “safety measures applied specifically to mentally ill patients.”

The court ruled that Yabansu does not have criminal liability and ordered authorities to place her in “the closest high-security health institution for treatment.” Despite the court's “closest health institution” remark, the prosecutors demanded that Yabansu be dispatched to the Kayseri City Hospital, to which the woman's lawyer filed an appeal.

Demanding that the court lift the security measures, the lawyer's appeal noted that the woman's transfer to another city would take eight hours and would physically “torture” her. “Sending this old woman, who is waiting for her death in her bed, to a city she does not know would be no different than burying her alive,” lawyer Celil Tanış said. 

“When my client was speaking on the street, someone recorded her without her approval and then shared the video on social media. The indictment was prepared on the basis of this, and the court ruled for the 'implementation of security measures.' There was a two-year-long prosecution process, and now the ruling is being executed. There is the city of Diyarbakır 80 kilometers away; why is the health examination demanded to be done in Kayseri, instead of Diyarbakır?” asked the lawyer.

Thousands have been charged and sentenced over the crime of "insulting" President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the seven years since he moved from being prime minister to the president.

In 2020, 31,297 investigations were launched in relation to the charge, 7,790 cases were filed and 3,325 resulted in convictions, according to Justice Ministry data. Those numbers were slightly lower than the previous year.

Since 2014, the year Erdoğan became president, 160,169 investigations were launched over insulting the president, 35,507 cases were filed and there were 12,881 convictions.