In this case, the public prosecutor claims a prison term of up to six years against Dogan Ozguden and Emin Karaca, for the articles that they had written to the review Turkiye'de ve Avrupa'da Yazin (Literature in Turkey and Europe) at the 30th anniversary of the execution of three leaders of progressive youth by the military junta. As for the editor responsible for the review, Mehmet Emin Sert, he risks a heavy fine for having published these articles.
The lawsuit was launched by virtue of Article 159 of the Turkish Penal Code. This article is applicable to any criticism against the Army, the government and the security forces if it is considered "insult" by the prosecutor. In spite of some recent changes in its text for respecting the criteria of Copenhagen, Article 159 still remains in force as a repressive arm in the Turkish Penal Code.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, at its plenary meeting on January 28, 2003, adopted a recommendation on the freedom of expression in the media in Europe. After having noted that "legal proceedings against journalists continue in Turkey", the European assembly gave as example the lawsuit brought against Ozguden and his two colleagues in Turkey.
In addition, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) immediately protested against the indictment of the three journalists. "If these journalists are condemned for insult to the army, Turkey will betray the commitments which it undertook towards the European Union", declared Robert Ménard, secretary-general of RSF, in a letter addressed to the Turkish Minister for Justice.
Reacting against Ozguden's indictment in Turkey, the National Secretary of the General Association of the Professional journalists of Belgium (AGJPB), Mrs. Martine Simonis, sent a message of protest to the Turkish Minister of Justice and to Mr. Louis Michel, Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Louis Michel had answered the letter of Mrs. Simonis on January 23, 2003, in these terms: "I entirely share your concern and I regret noting that Turkey still carries out lawsuits against the freedom of expression. According to informations obtained by my services, the risk of imprisonment is limited for the interested party, since there is no international warrant of arrest launched against him in the pending case. However, the risk undoubtedly remains for earlier cases against him. I asked our ambassador in Ankara to follow closely this specific case of Mr. Ozguden."
On April 11, 2003, the Brussels Center for Intercultural Action (CBAI), expressing "its concern and its dissatisfaction to see one of its founder members, Dogan Ozguden, is pursued by Turkish justice because of its articles," asked Louis Michel to make what is in its capacity "so that this militant of long date, keen partisan of dialogue, can exert freely and in serenity his missions," the CBAI said.
Trial against the critiques of the 1980 Coup
Recently, the publication of a book entitled "The September 12th regime in the dock" has been considered as a "crime" by the Turkish justice. Accused of having criticized that regime, the director of the Belge (Documentation) Publishing House, Ragip Zarakolu, risks a prison sentence of up to three years.
The book prepared to publication by Dr. Gazi Caglar, a member of the teaching body at the University of Hanover, contains the testimonies of a number of Turkish and Kurdish opponents of the September 12th regime before a special international court held in Koln in 1988 to judge this regime.
Among the witnesses were Dogan Ozguden, the chief editor of Info-Türk; writers Server Tanilli, Dursun Akçam [died last week], Ömer Polat, Nihat Behram; trade unionists Yücel Top, Gultekin Gazioglu, Enver Karagöz; lawyers Serafettin Kaya and Turgan Arinir.
The first audience of the lawsuit took place on September 24th at the State security Court (DGM) N°3 in Istanbul. Zarakolu is accused by the prosecutor of inciting the population to the hatred and the hostility by virtue of Article 312 of the Turkish Penal Code. For the reading of the indictment, the trial was deferred to December 3rd, 2003. (NM)
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