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Newspaper owner shot to death in Van

(BIANET/IFEX) - Kasim Ciftci, owner of the "Hakkari Province Voice" newspaper, aged 46, was killed in Van on 22 September 2007. His family took his body from the Van State Hospital on 23 September for burial in Hakkari, a province southeast of Van, in southeastern Turkey.

Fellow journalist Necip Capraz, the owner of the "Yüksekova News" newspaper, which is also published in Hakkari, told BIANET: "Dark clouds have been gathering over this province recently." Capraz had known Ciftci for 20 years.

Asked whether the murder was related to freedom of expression or the press, Capraz said he had not come across any evidence yet: "There are several possible reasons for his death, considering current conditions in this province."

The murder has been condemned by the Van Lake Journalists' Society and by Abdurrahman Keskin, former mayor of Hakkari and owner of the "Hakkari People's Voice" newspaper.

The journalist was found dead near the ruins of old Van City at around 12:30 pm (local time) on 22 September. According to "Yüksekova News", eyewitnesses saw two people arguing near the ruins. The argument turned into a fight, during which the person hit Ciftci's head with a stone.

When the journalist tried to run away, the other man shot at him and then left the area on foot.

The ambulance called to the site pronounced Ciftci dead, killed by two bullets. An autopsy was performed, and an investigation begun by the Van Public Prosecutor's Office.

In a written statement, the president of the Van Lake Journalists' Society, M. Emin Toker, expressed his sadness over the death, particularly as it takes place during the "holy month of Ramadan", and his belief that security forces would solve the murder as soon as possible.

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