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Special pardon sought for jailed Bayrak director

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The conviction of the director of Turkish Cypriot media outlet Bayrak, Meryem Çavuşoğlu Özkurt, who was convicted yesterday and sent to prison for 2 months for violating the ‘law’ on the electoral process and a directive of the ‘Supreme Electoral Council’ on broadcast inaugurations, was the focus of debate among Turkish Cypriot politicians, media and the unions, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported.

Özkurt’s lawyer Feyzi Hansel sent a letter to the ‘parliament’ in the north in an effort to obtain a special pardon for the release of his client, who was convicted yesterday and sent to prison for 2 months and 20 days. Hansel said yesterday that the sentence is too high and they will appeal the decision.

The whole issue has taken on major proportions as the TC leader, the ‘government’ in the north and the National Unity Party today rushed to support Özkurt, who reacted to the sentence, noting that the ceremony of the reopening of the repaired water pipeline from Turkey to the north, a few days before the second Sunday of the 2020 ‘presidential elections’, was also broadcast by at least two private channels, but their directors did not face prosecution.

According to Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen, the trial at the ‘Nicosia criminal court’ in the north lasted about a year with 9 hearings.

It is reported that the ‘council’ had requested both verbally by phone and by email to stop broadcasting the ceremony, based on the elections and referenda law, but this had not been done.

Özkurt faced two charges, violation of the electoral law and failure to comply with a directive from the “supreme electoral council”. The sentence is two months for the first charge and 20 days for the second.

On that day’s broadcast we agreed that TRNC politicians would not talk. Although we agreed that only politicians in Turkey will speak, unfortunately the TRNC politicians took to the podium one by one and gave speeches. Along with BRT, all private channels and web TVs, with the exception of SIM TV, gave this broadcast,” Özkurt said according to a report on Bayrak’s website.

I still believe in doing public broadcasting today. I don’t believe I deserve this punishment. When there are so many thieves, fraudsters, and bureaucrats sitting in their offices undeservedly in the country, and there is no doubt about them, I cannot digest this punishment given to me and the practices,” she continued.

After this broadcast I made for my country, I am curiously waiting for the attitude of the politicians in the face of this punishment given to me,” Özkurt concluded.

The ‘supreme electoral council president’, Narin Ferdi Shefik, today declined to comment on the case, noting that the legal process is ongoing.

TC leader Ersin Tatar expressed great regret for the decision, expressing confidence that the “competent authorities” will immediately take the necessary actions to relieve public opinion on this matter, “as I have observed that it has been deeply traumatised and causes indignation,” he said.

The Bayrak workers’ guild, BAY-SEN, through its president, Ibrahim Kanat, described the decision to imprison their director as unfortunate, saying that this ceremony was organised amidst election bans, but only Özkurt was prosecuted and this is unfair.

The issue was frontpage news on several of T/C newspapers today. Avrupa claimed that the ceremony had been ordered by the Turkish president himself to benefit Ersin Tatar just before the second Sunday of the ‘presidential’ elections.

Meanwhile, in a post on Wednesday, the former T/C leader Mustafa Akinci reiterated that the 2020 ‘presidential’ election was not democratic, fair or correct.

Akinci said that they were ‘elections’ in which all kinds of interference was made by the AKP power, the institutions of the Turkish state and their representatives in Cyprus in a leading role.

He added that along with threats against lives, the most brutal actions were taken, and the Turkish ’embassy’ in the north was used as a headquarters to prevent the real will of the people from being seen.

The intrigues created is also a reality, Akinci said, adding that Bayrak “played the role that some people wanted within the framework of the orders given”.

According to Akinci, there is a discussion about the sentence to be handed down to the director of Bayrak, who is the smallest link in a “big criminal chain”.

“Of course, I can’t be happy that someone is imprisoned. However, if our society wants to move forward to a better future, it can do so by respecting the democratic rule of law.”

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