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Turkey18 November 2005

Court upholds 20-month suspended prison sentence against editorialist

Reporters Without Borders protested after Turkey’s Supreme Court on 16 November 2005 upheld a 20-month suspended prison sentence against Burak Bekdil, editorialist on the English language daily Turkish Daily News for “insulting state institutions”.

Bekdil was initially sentenced after the paper carried a column exposing the failings and partiality of the Turkish legal system, on 27 August 2001.

He had contended that “an ordinary Turk would probably have one in a million chance for a fair trial, if he was foolish enough to trust Turkish courts and judges.”

He also included a list of advice “to those who are brave or crazy enough to seek justice at a Turkish court”.

“This sentence shows yet again the flaws in the new Turkish criminal code that allows the authorities to suppress certain articles or media, by using vague formulations according to whim.

“Such practices are utterly inconsistent with the norms of free expression within the European Union. We urge the Turkish government to reform its criminal code so that press offences are no longer punishable by prison sentences,” said Reporters Without Borders.

Bekdil could face a full jail term if he repeats the offence between now and July 2007.

His lawyer has decided to appeal against the verdict to the European Court of Human Rights.

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