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Publisher acquitted of "insult to Turkishness" in one case, second trial continues; his translator charged with insulting state, memory of Ataturk

(WiPC/IFEX) - The following is a 9 May 2007 WiPC press release:

TURKEY: Trial Against Publisher Ragip Zarakolu Ends with Acquittal

One of two trials against publisher Ragip Zarakolu that has been dragging on since March 2005 has ended with acquittal. However, the translator of the book for which Zarakolu was tried now faces charges. A second trial continues.

On 3 May 2007, after a long drawn out trial that first opened in March 2005, the Istanbul Court of First Instance ruled Ragip Zarakolu not guilty of "insult to Turkishness", as charged for the publication of George Jerjian's book The Truth Will Liberate Us. Zarakolu had been accused under Article 301 of the Penal Code of "insulting the state" for publishing the book which held government figures close to Kemal Ataturk responsible for mass deportations of Armenians at the turn of the last century. However, while Zarakolu's trial has ended, it appears that another one opens. The court stated that translator of the book, Atilla Tuygan, is guilty of the offence of "insult to the State" and "insult to the memory of Ataturk" and charges are expected to be made against him. If convicted, he faces up to 7.5 years in prison.

A second trial under Article 301 continues against Ragip Zarakolu, this time related to the publication of a book by Dora Sakayan entitled An Armenian Doctor in Turkey: Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal of 1922. The trial has also been under way for a considerable period with its first hearing held in August 2005. The next hearing is scheduled for 26 June 2007.

International PEN warmly welcomes the 3 May 2007 acquittal of Ragip Zarakolu of charges under Article 301 of the Penal Code in one of the two cases against him. PEN has long campaigned against the application of this law as a clear deviation from the international standards safeguarding the right to freedom of expression to which Turkey is committed. International PEN expects a similar outcome to the second trial against Zarakolu brought under the same law at its next hearing to be held on 26 June. PEN remains concerned by the threat of judicial proceedings against translator Atilla Tuygan, and that several other trials against writers and journalist under Article 301, and other articles that similarly contravene international standards, are still ongoing.

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