Case of European Court of Human Rights, October 21, 2014 (case Murat Vural v. Turkey)

Resolution Date:October 21, 2014

Violation of Article 10 - Freedom of expression -{General} (Article 10-1 - Freedom of expression) Violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 - Right to free elections-{general} (Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 - Vote) Pecuniary damage - claim dismissed Non-pecuniary damage - award


Information Note on the Court’s case-law No. 178

October 2014

Murat Vural v. Turkey - 9540/07

Judgment 21.10.2014 [Section II]

Article 10

Article 10-1

Freedom of expression

Thirteen years’ imprisonment for pouring paint over statues of Atatürk: violation

Facts – The applicant was sentenced to thirteen years’ imprisonment in 2007 after being found guilty of an offence under the Law on Offences committed against Atatürk (Law no. 5816) for having poured paint on statues of Kemal Atatürk. In accordance with domestic legislation, between the date on which his conviction became final and the official end date of his prison term, the applicant was unable to vote or be a candidate in elections. He was conditionally released from prison in 2013.

Law – Article 10: The action which led to the applicant’s conviction had constituted an expressive act. In the course of the criminal proceedings and before the Court the applicant maintained that his aim had been to express his “lack of affection” for Atatürk and his dissatisfaction with Kemalist ideology and its followers. The domestic courts had not found him guilty of vandalism, but of having insulted the memory of Atatürk. Therefore, through his actions the applicant had exercised his right to freedom of expression, and his conviction, imprisonment and disenfranchisement as a result of that conviction constituted interference with his Article 10 rights. That interference was prescribed by law and pursued the legitimate aim of protecting the reputation or rights of others.

As to whether it had been “necessary in a democratic society”, the Court first recalled that Kemal Atatürk had been an iconic figure in Turkey and that the Turkish Parliament had chosen to criminalise certain conduct which it considered insulting to his memory and damaging to the...

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