In addition to a number of cases launched against him over the past years for his publishing activities, Belge Publications owner and journalist Ragıp Zarakolu now faces up to 13.5 years imprisonment if found guilty for printing and distributing the Turkish translations of two books related to Armenians in Turkey.
Zarakolu appeared in court once again this week, this time on trial for the Turkish language publication of Prof. Dr. Dora Sakayan's book "Garabed Hacheryan's Izmir Journal: An Armenian Doctor's Experiences " and George Jerjian's " The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks Reconciled".
The prosecution demands 7.5 years imprisonment for the Turkish translation book "The Truth Will Set Us Free" for which the court has assigned Korkmaz Alemdar and Cafer Yenidogan of the Galatasaray University and Prof. Dr. Emin Artuk of Marmara University as expert witnesses. They are to read and analyse the book for an expert report.
"Garabed Hacheryan's Izmir Journal: An Armenian Doctor's Experiences" promises Zarakolu up to 6 years imprisonment if he found guilty of the charges but the court decided this week that statements taken were fulfilling and an additional expert witness report was not required for this publication.
Zarakolu: Court should interview author Sakaryan
Appearing before Istanbul's number 2 Court of First Instance on Wednesday and defended by attorney Osman Ergin, Zarakolu submitted a petition to the bench where he explained that author Sakaryan was a lecturer at the Mc Gill University in Canada and that his book put on trial in Turkey had been translated into nine different languages.
Zarakolu said Sakaryan had been honours by the German Presidency for his eminent services in recognition to 50 years of his contributions to the German language.
He said that Sakaryan was author of the most comprehensive work on the "Western Armenian" spoken in Turkey and requested the court to interview the author for his views.
Judge Sevim Efendiler adjourned the case until June 21.
Charges based on controversial articles
Zarakolu faces 6 years imprisonment for the Turkish translation publication of Sakaryan's book on grounds that he violated the law by publishing context that "degraded Turkisism" and "insulted and ridiculed the Army".
He faces 7.5 years imprisonment for Jerjian's book on charges of "insulting and ridiculing the State and Republic" as well as "Insulting the memory of Ataturk".
The two consecutive hearings on Wednesday were held in the presence of International PEN representative Eugene Schoulgin, International Human Rights Federation (FİDH) deputy chairman Akın Birdal, Pencere publications executive Muzaffer Erdogdu, Aram publications editor Fatih Tas and author Oner Eyuboglu who attended the court in support of Zarakolu. (EO/II