German dentist gets 16-month suspended sentence for Erdoğan insult, other charges

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A 63-year-old dentist from the western German city of Wuppertal has been given a suspended sentence of 16 months, 20 days in Turkey on charges of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and provoking the public to hatred and enmity.

The dentist, Kristian B., who wanted to take a short vacation in Turkey and flew to the country on November 4, reportedly got into a dispute with other passengers at the baggage carousel after he asked a woman to comply with the hygiene rules against the coronavirus at the Antalya airport and became abusive towards Turkey and its citizens.

“You Turks are just like that, it is not a democratic country here, anyway,” the dentist is said to have shouted, according to witnesses cited by German newspaper Bild.

One of the travelers who recorded the incident in a video then reported the dentist to the authorities, saying he “insulted Turkey and the Turkish nation.”

He was detained on the same day and subsequently arrested.

The dentist, who appeared in an Antalya court on Tuesday, was given 11 months, 20 days on charges of insulting the president, and five months on charges of provoking the public to hatred and enmity. The sentence was suspended, and the court ruled for the release of the German dentist. The trial was followed by many German journalists and officials from the German consulate in Antalya.

In remarks that appeared in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday, Kristian B.’s lawyer Rüdiger Deckers said he has confidence in the Turkish judiciary, adding. “We have no reason to believe that the judge will not make an objective decision.” He said Kristian B. was doing fine although he had to share the pre-trial detention cell with numerous other prisoners. The lawyer said the dentist was often allowed to go outside into the prison yard. “I don’t hear any complaints from him, he is getting along quite well,” added the lawyer.

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 even the most minor criticism of Erdoğan or his government as an insult.

Insulting the president is a crime in Turkey, according to the controversial Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). Whoever insults the president can face up to four years in prison, a sentence that can be increased if the crime was committed through the mass media.

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