Journalist Ozan Kılınç, former concessionaire of the Kurdish AzadiyaWelat newspaper, was sentenced to imprisonment of six years and nine months on the grounds of news items published in the daily. As a detained defendant of the case he is being imprisoned in Diyarbakır in the pre-dominantly Kurdish region of south-eastern Turkey.
Kılınç stood accused of "membership in an illegal organization and committing a crime on behalf of the organization" and "spreading propaganda for an illegal organization" in two files comprised by this trial. The charges were based on news items from twelve different issues of the newspaper published in June 2009. The second hearing of the case at the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court was held on 7 April.
Detained defendant Kılınç attended the hearing together with his lawyer Servat Özen, as reported by the Fırat News Agency (ANF). The minutes of the previous hearing were read out again due to a change of the court board.
Request for Defence in Kurdish dismissed
The prosecutor pleaded for a continuation of the journalist's detention. Kılınç requested to present his defence in Kurdish as his mother language which was declined by the court. In the minutes it was registered that Kılınç made a "statement in a language not understood by the court and supposed to be Kurdish".
Lawyer Özen declared that they did not accept the final speech of the prosecution and that they were going to reiterate the defence previously made.
Özen claimed that his client was a journalist who fulfilled his duty of informing the public.
"This is a legal right enshrined in the Constitution given to people and individuals who are carrying out press duties. We request the esteemed court to acquit the defendant from charges of "propaganda for a terrorist organization" now and not by having the decree overturned by the Court of Appeals [later on]", Özen said.
"Otherwise, we request our client's acquittal together with the final decision. We demand not to apply any increase of punishment and to take into consideration the time the defendant has been in detention and also consider that there is no risk of flight given".
Court of Appeals quashed prison sentence because it was "too long"
After a brief intermission, the court decided to acquit Kılınç from charges of "membership in an illegal organization and committing a crime on behalf of the organization" regarding one file tried in the scope of this case. For the other file, the court ruled for imprisonment of six years and nine months without mitigation on charges of "spreading propaganda for an illegal organization".
The journalist was previously sentenced to imprisonment of 21 years in the context of another trial heard before the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court. In February this year, the Court of Appeals 9th Chamber overturned the decision, saying that it was too high. (EÇ/EÖ/VK)