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Journalist, event organiser on trial, face possible imprisonment, for "insulting, humiliating security forces" in discussion panel

(BIANET/IFEX) - Ersen Korkmaz, the owner of the local newspaper "Demokrat Iskenderun", has been on trial for four years and a half over a paper he wrote entitled "They caught the leader of the Kurds and gave him to the fascists", for a panel organized by Turkey's Communist Party (TKP).

Korkmaz and another member of the organizing committee of the panel, Necmettin Salaz, are being tried for "insulting and humiliating the state's security forces and the army".

If convicted, they face three years in prison.

The alleged crime is an offence under article 159 of the old Penal Code, which is considered a serious obstacle to freedom of expression in the country. The same restrictions and punishment under this article are found in the infamous article 301 in the new Turkish Penal Code.

At the last sitting of the trial on 30 March 2007, the İskenderun Second Court of First Instance declared that Salaz's lawyer has yet to receive notice of the hearing.

To proceed with the case, judge Gülen Arslan urged that a video recording of the panel - taken from local broadcaster Güneş TV- be decoded.

The case has been postponed to 22 May.

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