Calling 2016 coup attempt a ‘scenario’ is not a crime, top Turkish court rules

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Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision that acquitted a defendant who described a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016 a “scenario” and a “play” set up by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Diken news website reported.

The defendant, who works at a court in Bursa’s İnegöl district, told several people at the courthouse four days after the coup attempt that the coup attempt was staged by Erdoğan so that the necessary circumstances would converge in the country for him to become an executive president.

The defendant, whose name was not revealed, stood trial at the Bursa 9th High Criminal Court and was acquitted as the court ruled that the elements of a crime were not present.

The Justice Ministry challenged the Bursa court’s decision at the Supreme Court of Appeals, asking it to reverse it on the grounds that his remarks constituted the propaganda of a terrorist organization.

The top court refused to reverse the Bursa court’s decision and said the defendant’s remarks about the coup attempt cannot be considered a criminal offense, although they were an example of harsh criticism.

Although the Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the failed coup and has launched a massive crackdown on its followers, many people think the coup might have been staged by Erdoğan so that he could use it as a pretext to punish non-loyalist citizens and establish a one-man rule in the country. The movement, inspired by the views of US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, strongly denies any involvement in the abortive putsch. Turkey, which used to have a parliamentary system of governance, adopted an executive presidency following a public referendum in 2017, and Erdoğan was elected as the first executive president of the country in June 2018.

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