The Ankara Police Department has sent a report the the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, claiming that journalist Temel Demirer breached Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code when he made a press statement after his initial trial under the same article was postponed.
The first trial had been postponed provided that, following Provisional Articles 1 and 2 of Law 6352, he would not “commit a new crime under Clause 1 within the next three years”.
Referring to recent judicial reforms, Demirer had asked, “If there is change, then why has this inquiry been opened? What are the [reform] packages for?”
For the initial investigation, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had asked for permission from the Ministry of Justice, which has been the procedure since 8 May 2008. At that time, changes in the controversial Article 301 had also reduced the maximal sentence for “denigrating the Turkish Nation, the Turkish Republic, its government or government institutions” to two years.
According to the police report, after the trial, Demirer said the following in front of the court building:
“If I don’t say ‘There was an Armenian genocide in Turkey’ or ‘the state in Turkey is a murderer’ for the next three years, I will be acquitted. Right now, five minutes after the trial, without waiting for three years, I say, ‘The state is the murderer of Hrant Dink’. I also say, ‘There was an Armenian genocide in this country’. If the court, security forces or the Ministry of Injustice that postponed my trial do not open another trial, they will be committing a crime.”
“I am not inciting anyone to commit a crime. What I am saying is that ideas cannot be shackled in this country. I have learnt from İsmail Beşikçi, Fikret Başkaya and Baskın Oran [academics imprisoned or tried for their work] that freedom of thought is standing strong. There has been an Armenian genocide in this country. The state killed Hrant Dink. These are my thoughts. So, if you want, try me again.”
“No change in mentality”
Levent Kanat, Demirer’s lawyer, told bianet that they had learned about the new inquiry in the news and had not received an official notification. For Kanat, the investigation is the result of a mentality that has not changed: “They say they are becoming more democratic, but that is not true.”
When Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos was killed on 19 January 2007, Demirer made a statement the next day, saying: “Hrant Dink was not killed because he was Armenian but because he said that there had been an Armenian genocide.” Demirer was then sentenced under Article 301, with the prosecution demanding 2 years imprisonment.
At the final hearing on 19 February 2013, Demirer said he wanted either an acquittal or a sentence. However, the court made use of the provisional Articles 1 and 2 of Law 6352 that had been introduced in the third judicial reform package and staid proceedings. (EA/AG/KU)