Turkish Singer Gülşen Çolakoğlu Sentenced Over Controversial Remarks: A Detailed Overview
Controversial Remarks Lead to Legal Consequences
Noted Turkish singer Gülşen Çolakoğlu was sentenced to 10 months in prison by the Istanbul 11th Criminal Court of First Instance on May 3, 2022. The charges levelled against her included “publicly insulting a section of the people based on differences in social class, religion, sect, gender, or region.” However, the court deferred the announcement of the verdict. The statements leading to this judgement were directed at graduates of Imam Hatip schools.
The court emphasized that excluding such a large group from the protection of the law could potentially undermine peace, security, harmony, and prosperity in society. The incident that sparked this legal action took place on April 30, 2022, during one of Çolakoğlu’s concerts in Ataşehir.
Details of the Incident
During her performance, Çolakoğlu made a controversial statement, saying, “He (the person she was referring to) studied at an Imam Hatip school, that’s where his perversion comes from.” This led to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launching an ex officio investigation into the singer for the crime of “inciting the public to hatred and hostility.” On August 25, Çolakoğlu was arrested by the police and was detained by the on-duty court.
Defence and Court’s Rebuttal
In her defense, Çolakoğlu claimed that the offense was not public. However, the court dismissed this claim, arguing that the concert where the comments were made was attended by hundreds of people. It was recorded by the audience and the media, making it accessible to everyone. The court also stated that calling any majority group in society “perverted” is not in line with human rights, universal law, or the criteria of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The court reasoned that the defendant’s actions were disruptive to the atmosphere of tolerance among the people, discriminatory, and posed a tangible threat to public peace.
Aftermath and Legal Proceedings
Following an appeal by her lawyers, Çolakoğlu was released on August 29 and placed under judicial control with the condition not to leave her residence. The indictment prepared by the prosecutor’s office included 702 institutions and individuals as “complainants.” The indictment sought a prison sentence of 1 to 3 years for Çolakoğlu for the crime of “openly inciting the public to hatred and hostility.”
Despite the acceptance of the indictment by the court, an appeal led to a travel ban and a requirement for Çolakoğlu to sign at the nearest police station every Thursday. However, at the first hearing on October 21, 2022, the Istanbul 11th Criminal Court of First Instance decided to continue the travel ban but lifted the requirement to sign.
Following another appeal by her lawyers, the Istanbul 33rd High Criminal Court lifted the travel ban after a security deposit of 250,000 TL was paid.
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