Engin Akyurt Pexels / 2010

Efkan Bolac, a lawyer at the Istanbul Bar Association and a member of the Progressive Lawyers Association (CHD), appeared before the 52nd Chamber of the Caglayan Court on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, for having published a cartoon featuring Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2018.

The “incriminated” cartoon, which appeared in the press a first time in 2014, refers to the mining accident that occurred the same year in the city of Soma causing 301 victims, the most serious industrial disaster in Turkey. The cartoon depicts a man with features similar to President Erdogan, being kicked by a miner. During the protests against the neglect of the disaster, one of Erdogan’s advisors kicked a miner who was pushed by the police and fell in front of him.

Efkan Bolac, who had republished this drawing in 2018, is therefore prosecuted for insulting the President of the Republic. He faces 4 years in prison, even though Recep Tayyip Erdogan was Prime Minister at the time of the facts.

At the hearing on January 24, the judge postponed the case to June 1st, 2023, on the pretext that the court was waiting for the written transcript of the audio recording of the previous hearing, which had lasted only a few minutes on September 6, 2022, in the presence of an OIAD delegation.

The delegation was able to discuss at length the problems of the Turkish judiciary, exposing the breakdown of the rule of law in Turkey, characterized in particular by a lack of separation of powers, the lack of impartiality of judges who fear being sanctioned, transferred and dismissed from their position. Following the purges after the 2016 coup attempt, the most experienced magistrates are assigned to labor or commercial matters and those, often inexperienced, are assigned to criminal matters, including in Istanbul where 15 years of experience was required.

Between the numerous infringements of freedoms and the fears of magistrates with regard to political power, who are punished for having pronounced decisions that are not in keeping with the government, lawyers are not spared, as the case of Efkan Bolac shows.

His counsels fear a hasty decision on June 1st, following the early presidential elections, scheduled for May 14th, 2023.

OIAD warmly thanks the lawyers Fanny De Beco (NANTES Bar), Claude Nicati (NEUCHÂTEL Bar) and Julien Monnier (NANTES Bar), who also carried the mandates of their respective bars, for their precious commitment.