Turkey turns down editor's appeal

BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4963 586.stm
Last Updated: Monday, 1 May 2006, 22:10 GMT 23:10 UK

A Turkish court has rejected an appeal by a prominent journalist
against a ruling that found him guilty of insulting Turkishness.

Hrant Dink, an Armenian living in Turkey, was given a six-month
suspended sentence last October.

He had written a newspaper article which addressed the mass killings
of Ottoman Armenians nine decades ago.

This case is one of several monitored closely by EU officials concerned
about limits on free speech in Turkey.

In February, the chief prosecutor's office at the Appeals Court
considered Mr Dink's case and recommended that the remarks were in
no way insulting.

But now, in a surprise development, the court itself has chosen to
ignore that interpretation and ruled that the substance of the charge
still stands.

'Extremely distressed'

It is a blow for the defence team.

The high-profile newspaper editor, whose publication Agos appears in
Turkish and Armenian, was first found guilty of insulting Turkishness
last year when a court ruled that one of his articles described
Turkish blood as dirty.

Hrant Dink always denied his words meant any such thing and argued
his column was in fact aimed at improving the difficult relationship
between Turks and Armenians.

The case will now go back to the local court that first heard it,
and Mr Dink could face a retrial.

He told the BBC he was extremely distressed at the news.

He has always said he would have to leave the country if the courts
here could not clear his name for good.

European Union officials have expressed serious concern about the
article of law that was used against Hrant Dink and several dozen
other writers here in Turkey.

Despite a series of reforms linked to Turkey's bid for membership
of the EU, it is still illegal to insult the Turkish identity, the
military and the judiciary and the line between criticism and insult
is often blurred.

The controversial issue of the fate of the Ottoman Armenians is
frequently the spark for court cases.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress