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Court bans more online content upon demand from controversial jurist

Top appeals court member Yüksel Kocaman (L), mobster Ayhan Bora Kaplan

A Turkish court has imposed an access ban on 17 more news reports concerning bribery allegations made by a mobster against a member of a top court that sparked a debate in Turkey about the shadowy relationship between the mafia and the judicial authorities, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

The Ankara 7th Penal Court of Peace made the decision based on a petition filed by Yüksel Kocaman, a controversial figure and member of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Another Ankara court last week ruled to ban access to 26 news reports following a petition from Kocaman.

Kocaman recently came to public attention when he spoke to the Halk TV news website for an interview in which he denied bribery allegations made by Ayhan Bora Kaplan, a mob boss known for his alleged ties to former Turkish interior minister Süleyman Soylu who was arrested earlier this month on charges that include “forming a criminal organization,” “intentional injury,” “armed robbery,” “deprivation of liberty” and “torture.”

Kaplan said in an “off-the-record statement” made at the police department that he had given a luxury villa car to Kocaman, the former Ankara chief public prosecutor, as a gift. The mob boss’s claim spread quickly on social media.

Kocaman denied the mobster’s bribery claims, saying he comes from wealthy family and would not engage in bribery even if he had needed something. He also said he briefly met with Kocaman at a dinner where he was introduced to him by his friends.

When the prosecutor petitioned the Ankara 9th Penal Court of Peace the first time demanding an access ban on the articles about the bribery allegations against him, the court rejected his request, citing media freedom.

The prosecutor later petitioned a higher court, which ruled in his favor on the grounds that he is a member of the high judiciary and because an attack was made on his personal rights since the news reports mention his name and use photos of him, which it said violates his privacy and could make him a target for some groups.

Kocaman sparked a debate about judicial independence in Turkey, or the lack thereof, when he visited President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at his presidential palace with his bride on his wedding day and received gifts there in September 2020.

Shortly after the visit, he was appointed a member of the country’s Supreme Court of Appeals by Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK).

Kocaman also had ordered the detention of 82 Kurdish politicians in September 2020 and led the conviction of jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş because Demirtaş accused him of drafting an indictment against him and the other Kurdish politicians in disregard of the law and said he would settle accounts with him one day in court. Demirtaş was given a 30-month sentence in October 2022 on charges of threatening and targeting a public official who was part of the fight against terrorism.

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