A Turkish prosecutor filed charges against two boys, aged 12 and 13, for “insulting the Turkish president.” The boys, who are cousins, face more than two years in prison followed by time in a children’s home if convicted.
The case comes after the boys allegedly pulled down posters continaing a picture of President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. During testimony, one of the boys (whose identity cannot be revealed because of Turkish law) said, “We did not care about whose posters they were. We just wanted to remove them in order to sell them to a junk dealer.”
Cases against children for the crime of “insulting the president” must be approved by the Justice Ministry before they are filed.
The lawyer for the boys, ?smail Korkmaz, said the charges of “insulting the Turkish president” were “unclear.” He also commented that the boys most likely didn’t know who was on the posters.
“It is devastating to see two children being tried for tearing down a poster of the president,” Korkmaz added, criticizing Turkey’s “illiberal” justice system.
Close to a year ago in Turkey, a 16-year old high school student was arrested for insulting Erdogan and faced four years in prison if convicted. The student was part of an online group called Democrat High School Students. In the course of a speech he made to commemorate Lieutenant Mustafa Fehmi Kubilay, who was killed by a pro-sharia group in 1930, the student commented on Erdogan’s connection to corruption, bribery and theft.
The student pled not guilty, saying his intention was not to insult anyone.
“If a 16-year-old can be arrested for insulting the president, it means something is going wrong in this country,” the student’s lawyer, Baris Ispir, said at the time, adding this was the first time in the history of the Turkish Republic that someone the age of 16 was arrested for the crime of insulting the president.
Meanwhile in Turkey, police stormed the Istanbul headquarters of a media group critical of Erdogan, using chain saws, water cannons and tear gas. AFP reported that “the move followed a controversial court ruling ordering the seizure of the conglomerate linked to US-exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, regarded as the nemesis of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”
Footage of the raid was broadcast live on the conglomerate's TV two stations. Demonstration against the action were staged in Ankara and Istanbul, with protesters yelling, "We will not be silenced."