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Lawyer to be tried for alleged insult uttered during defence of journalists

(BIANET/IFEX) - Yücel Sayman, the former president of the Istanbul Bar Association, is being tried for insulting nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz's lawyers. The insult is alleged to have taken place at a trial of journalists from the "Agos" newspaper for influencing the judiciary.

Sayman is to be tried in February 2008 for words he allegedly used at a court hearing on 16 May 2006, when "Agos" editor-in-chief Hrant Dink, his son and editor Arat Dink and the newspaper licence holder, Serkis Seropyan, were on trial (for further information on Hrant Dink's legal persecution, see IFEX alerts of 21 December, 19, 12 and 6 July, 5 June and 4 May 2006, and others).

Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code is being applied in Sayman's case and a sentence of up to two years imprisonment will be demanded.

The trial in 2006 was turbulent. When the defendants appeared in court the first time, their lawyers had coins and pens thrown at them and were threatened and insulted when leaving the hearing.

During the hearing, Kerincsiz, the representative of the Great Lawyers' Union, and other plaintiffs tried to limit defendant Hrant Dink's time to speak, arguing that he had talked too much. When defence lawyers said that there was pressure on the defendants and their lawyers, they were threatened.

During the argument, Kerincsiz called towards the journalists' defence lawyers, "We are watching you too!" Sayman is now on trial for what he said on that occasion.

Kerincsiz and his Lawyers' Union are well-known in Turkey, and by now internationally, for the trials they have instigated.

The latest was against journalist Ayse Önal of the "Star" newspaper, who was sentenced to paying compensation and a prison sentence converted to a fine for allegedly insulting Kerincsiz (see IFEX alert of 10 August 2007). In an article on 30 December 2005, the journalist had criticised Kerincsiz for filing a suit against Joost Lagendijk, the chair of the EU Joint Parliamentary Committee with Turkey.

Kerincsiz has also filed suits against writers such as Orhan Pamuk and Elif Safak.

Eight months after the "Agos" trial, editor-in-chief Hrant Dink was murdered (see alerts of 13 July, 2 April, 23 and 19 January 2007).

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