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Top court upholds prison sentence handed down to singer on Erdoğan insult charge

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Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld a prison sentence of 11 months, 20 days handed down to famous pop Turkish Zuhal Olcay on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Olcay was given the jail sentence by the İstanbul Regional Court’s 2nd Penal Chamber in July 2018

The sentence was suspended on condition that she not commit the same crime for a year and a half.

Olcay was reported to the police on Aug. 5, 2016 after a concert in Kadıköy, İstanbul, for making an insulting hand gesture in reference to Erdoğan.

After examining footage from the concert, the Anadolu Republic Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office indicted Olcay, demanding a sentence of between one year, two months and four years, eight months.

The İstanbul 46th Court of First Instance sentenced Olcay to a year in prison in March 2018 but had reduced it to 10 months due to good behavior.

Since she had a previous sentence for insulting a state official, the court ruled to execute the punishment and sent her to prison.

Olcay later appealed to the İstanbul Regional Court, demanding her acquittal. The court decided to suspend Olcay’s sentence, but Erdoğan’s lawyers challenged the decision at the Supreme Court of Appeals. The top court decided unanimously to uphold the sentence given to the singer.

Thousands of people in Turkey are under investigation, and most of them are under the threat of imprisonment, over alleged insults of President Erdoğan. The insult cases generally stem from social media posts shared by Erdoğan opponents. The Turkish police and judiciary perceive any tiny criticism targeting Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

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