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Journalist given prison sentence for "insulting" prosecutor

(BIANET/IFEX) - Özgür Bogatekin, a representative of the local "Gerger Firat" newspaper in Adiyaman, southeastern Turkey, has been sentenced to 14 months and 17 days' imprisonment for an article in which he argued that his father, journalist Haci Bogatekin, was being held in prison unlawfully.

Özgür Bogatekin has now been convicted of insulting prosecutor Sadullah Ovacikli.

On 13 May 2009, the Gerger Criminal Court of First Instance handed down the sentence without reducing or suspending the sentence, or turning it into a fine.

Referring to a court hearing to which his father had been brought in handcuffs and where the continuation of his detention had been decided, Özgür Bogatekin had written an article entitled "Continuation of Detention".

The article, which appeared on 30 June 2008, described prosecutor Sadullah Ovacikli and policemen "grinning surreptitiously" after the father's continuing detention had been decided on.

An expression Özgür Bogatekin used to describe the way the prosecutor was walking, "pegur", is a regional term. The court trying him used an "expert" witness, court clerk Mustafa Erdil, to evaluate the expression. Erdil said: "'Pegur' can mean walking like a wolf, walking with wolves, wolves' tracks, but can also mean other things. What I understand of 'pegur walk' is that it can be interpreted as a way of insulting someone. It can then mean walking behind a wolf, walking like a wolf, stepping into the tracks of a wolf. It depends on how the word was used. The meaning of this word may change from region to region."

Özgür Bogatekin pointed out that judge Aysegül Simsek, who tried him, had been withdrawn from his father's court case because of lack of objectivity, and that the files had been sent to the Kahta Criminal Court of First Instance.

Like his father, he filed a claim requesting a different judge, saying, "There has been animosity between the judge and my father, and also between her and me and my family. That is why I demand a different judge."

However, Özgür Bogatekin's request was rejected. The court also rejected his father's application to take part in the case.

Özgür Bogatekin stated that he has filed a symbolic compensation suit of one lira (approx. US$0.65) against the judges of his father's court case at the Kahta Civil Court of Peace, that he has demanded a change in prosecutor and judge, and that he has demanded a preliminary investigation into these individuals by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors.

He has further said that he will file an appeal against the court decision, saying, "I have full faith in higher justice."

The journalist's father, Haci Bogatekin, was put on trial for "insulting", "slander" and "attempting to influence the judiciary process" after he said that he had been threatened by prosecutor Sadullah Ovacikli who took his statement about an article entitled "Feto and Apo" that contained references to Fethullah Gülen, a religious leader. Haci Bogatekin has described the prosecutor as a "Fethullah Gülen fan."

Haci Bogatekin was kept detained for a total of 109 days, and his demands for a release were refused at three hearings before he was later released from Kahta prison.

The Adiyaman 2nd Heavy Penal Court finally accepted his demand for a different judge, and his case has been transferred to the Kahta court.

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