A Tatvan court has sentenced Sinan Aygül, editor-in-chief of Bitlis News and head of the Bitlis Journalists Association, two months and five days in prison on Jan. 24 for alleged "insult," following an attack by two relatives of Tatvan Mayor Mehmet Emin Geylani on June 17, 2023.
According to an indictment drafted by the Tatvan Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Aygül referred to the assailants as “Two street dogs” and said, “may God damn them,” after being discharged from the hospital where he received treatment following the assault.
On Jan. 24, the court opted from categorizing the action as a "response to an unjust action" and refrained from converting the penalty into a fine, citing the "defendant’s criminal personality."
Aygül, frequently targeted for his journalistic work, will serve prison time if an appeals court upholds the sentence.
‘’I was attacked for defending the interests of the public, of the people, and I will go to prison for not dying, for coming back from the dead,’’ Aygül responded to his sentencing.
Aygül was attacked on June 17, 2023, in the eastern province of Bitlis' Tatvan district by municipal employee Yücel Baysalı and police officer Engin Kaplan, both relatives of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) mayor, Mehmet Emin Geylani.
Video footage shows Kaplan battering Aygül while Baysalı prevents bystanders from intervening by, amongst others, flashing his gun.
Just two days prior to the incident, Aygül had raised allegations of irregularities in a public tender involving the Tatvan Municipality and the mayor.
According to Aygül, the assaulters threatened to kill him if he would write about the mayor again.
Mayor Geylani has refuted any connection to the assault.
The hearing of Kaplan and Baysalı, who are being prosecuted without detention on assault charges, will take place on Jan. 25.
A forensic report stated that the attack left “no permanent scars” on his face, Aygül said, which could severely reduce the sentencing for assailants.
(English version by Wouter Massink)