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Writer receives 14-month suspended sentence over "Aktüel" magazine article

(BIANET/IFEX) - Writer Perihan Magden has been given a 14-month suspended prison sentence under Article 125 of the Penal Code for reporting on what people said about Aytac Akgül when Akgül was the governor of Yüksekova district, in the southeastern province of Hakkari. She has been convicted of insulting Akgül.

An article published in the weekly "Aktüel" magazine on 7 February 2006 led to her trial for "those ascribing a concrete action or fact of a nature which can injure someone's honour and respectability, or those fabricating facts or swearing".

The European Council, of which Turkey is a member, demands of its member states that they avoid giving prison sentences for crimes of "insult". However, Article 125 allows prison sentences from three months to two years, or legal fines, to be imposed.

Magden wrote an article entitled "The (Arrogant) Woman is the Wolf, the Fox, the Turkey of Women: She Eats and Finishes", in which she described what people told her of Akgül when she visited the area.

Akgül is now district governor in the Bulanik district of Mus, also in the southeast of Turkey, and it is here that the trial was initially held. The Bulanik Chief Prosecutor Özgür Beyazit said in his indictment of May 2006 that the expressions Magden used were "an insult to a civil servant due to their position".

The Bulanik Criminal Court of Peace accepted Magden's lawyer's demand that the case be transferred to the Istanbul Second Penal Court. This court sentenced Magden on 4 December 2007, arguing that the content of the article went beyond criticism.

In accordance with Article 51 of the Penal Code, her sentence was suspended because she did not have a police record.

In her article, Magden wrote: "It seems, according to those we spoke to, that the Yüksekova district governor . . . whose place of duty was later changed, was a real 'case'. Is it possible to hate the people 'out there' so much, to alienate, exclude, treat them like insects, like enemies? We all said, is that much possible? One person said to us, 'The district governor you saw yesterday? She is a Kurd from Erzurum.' As a 'snow-white' Turk I could not believe it. Expressions of surprise; that cannot be! Fervently and agitatedly. A mistake. Then an older guy among us said: 'Do not be surprised: A Kurdish traitor is really treacherous.'"

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