ECHR ruling of June 20, 2017 in the case of Ali Cetin v. Turkey (application No. 30905/09).
In 2009, the applicant was assisted in the preparation of the application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to Turkey.
In the case, the complaint on bringing to criminal responsibility for mentions of the tax inspector in insulting and derogatory form in a letter sent to two administrative bodies was successfully considered. The case involved a violation of the requirements of Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
The applicant was convicted for sending a letter to the fund where he worked (he attached a copy of the letter to the administrative complaint), in which he accused the tax inspector who compiled the report, which led to the applicant's dismissal, that he acted as if issued a "fatwa" against him, and indirectly compared the inspector to the fictional character of Turkish literature. Fatwa - in Muslim countries the decision of the highest religious authority (mufti) on the correspondence of a particular action or phenomenon to the Koran and Sharia.
ISSUES OF LAW
The contentious conviction constituted an interference with the applicant's exercise of his right to freedom of expression, was provided for by law and pursued the legitimate aim of protecting the reputation and rights of others. From the wording of the letter appended to his administrative complaint, it was clear that the applicant sought to express his personal opinion. His statements were therefore closer to value judgments than to statements about the fact.
The comments in question were not made in the framework of an open discussion on issues of general interest, but were critical remarks made in response to a report compiled by an inspector who acted as a civil servant who caused direct and undoubted harm to the applicant, expressed in his dismissal. In his complaint, the applicant asked for the removal of certain fragments of the report, which, in his opinion, could have harmed his career. He compared the mentality of the author of the report with the mind-set of the fictional character of Turkish literature. The applicant's conviction was based on the terms he used to describe the inspector, terms that were found offensive and could be perceived as nagging, rather than critical professional opinions that he expressed with regard to the inspector.
However, the controversial comments were made in a letter attached to the complaint about the challenge of the report, which caused serious professional troubles for the applicant. Thus, they were not intended for the general public, but only for the competent authorities of the country. Given the nature of the controversial observations and the context in which they were distributed, the grounds relied on by the authorities of the respondent State in the applicant's conviction can not be regarded as "relevant and sufficient".
Although the sanction applied to the applicant (a seven-day deprivation of liberty replaced by a fine of about 195 euros) was a proportional interference with the applicant's right to freedom of expression, it was nonetheless punishable in terms of criminal law.
Thus, the applicant's conviction was a disproportionate interference with his right to freedom of expression, which was not "necessary in a democratic society".
In the case there was a violation of the requirements of Article 10 of the Convention (unanimously adopted).
In the application of Article 41 of the Convention. Claims for compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage were rejected.