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Nine small newspapers fined for "influencing judiciary" in case of murdered publishing house employees; journalists investigated for publishing information on same case

(BIANET/IFEX) - Nine local newspapers, none with a circulation over 4,000, have been fined for "influencing the judiciary" in the Malatya murder case. The newspapers are refusing to pay and will collaborate on appealing the decision.

The newspapers, which published a news item by the Ihlas News Agency (IHA) concerning the murders at the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya in April 2007, have been ordered to pay a fine of 2,000 YTL (approx. 1,176 euros) each.

The newspapers had published a letter containing information about the murder. The letter, which the newspapers received from IHA, was published three days later because a weekend intervened.

The "Görüs", "Son Söz", "Yeni Malatya", "Hakimiyet", "Hamle", "Gercek", "YeniGün" and "Net Haber" newspapers, as well as another unidentified newspaper, were ordered to pay the fines by the Malatya Chief Public Prosecutor on 7 January 2008. They are accused of violating Article 19 of the Press Law, i.e., "influencing the judiciary."

The nine newspapers have announced that they will not pay the fine and will collaborate in order to object to the punishment. They also pointed out that due to their low circulation numbers, it was impossible for the newspapers to influence the judiciary.

In a similar case in December 2007, the Kartal Chief Public Prosecutor in Istanbul initiated an investigation into nine journalists in Istanbul and Ankara, who reported that, before the murders, the murder suspects had called a phone registered in the name of Kartal prosecutor Refik Hakan Basverdi. The journalists are now accused of violating Basverdi's personal rights.
The journalists concerned are Erkan Acar and Sedat Günec of the "Zaman" newspaper, Kemal Göktas of "Vatan", Gökcer Tahincioglu of "Milliyet", Oya Armutcu, Asli Sözbilir and Ali Daglar of "Hürriyet", Ersin Bal of "Aksam", and Hilal Köse of "Cumhuriyet".

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