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Former miss Turkey found guilty for insulting Erdogan

Model Merve Buyuksarac given 14-month suspended prison sentence for insulting Turkey's president through Instagram post.

Model Merve Buyuksarac

A former Miss Turkey has been handed a 14-month suspended prison sentence for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through a poem she shared on social media, the latest of at least a dozen Turks to face such a sentence.

An Istanbul court found model Merve Buyuksarac, 27, guilty of insulting a public official but suspended the sentence on condition she does not repeat the act for the next five years, local media said on Tuesday.

Buyuksarac, who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2006, was briefly detained last year for sharing the poem on Instagram in 2014. It was called "the Master's Poem" and referred to a high-level Turkish corruption scandal in 2014.

Her lawyer, Emre Telci, said he would file a formal objection to the verdict and appeal her case at the Strasbourg, France-based European Court of Justice.

"These insult trials are being initiated in series, they are being filed automatically," Telci told The Associated Press news agency by telephone after the verdict.

"Merve was prosecuted for sharing a posting that did not belong to her. My client has been convicted for words that do not belong to her."

Before the verdict was announced, Erdogan's lawyer argued in court that Buyuksarac's Instagram post had gone beyond "the limits of criticism" and amounted to "an attack" on the Turkish leader's personal rights, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Insulting the president is a crime punishable by up to four years in jail in Turkey. The law was used infrequently until Erdogan became president in August 2014, since which time prosecutors have opened more than 1,800 cases for insulting him, including against cartoonists, journalists and teenagers.

Prosecutors are also pursuing a case against a German comedian who mocked Erdogan on German television.


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