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Editor killed by gunman in western Turkey

IPI/SEEMO calls for thorough investigation

(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 21 December 2009 - The editor-in-chief of western Turkish newspaper Güney Marmara'da Yasam (Life in Southern Marmara) was ambushed and shot while leaving his office on Friday afternoon. Cihan Hayirsevener, 53, succumbed to his injuries later that evening in the Uludag University Medical Faculty hospital in Bursa, according to news reports.

A funeral service was held for Hayirsevener on Sunday.

Hayirsevener was shot three times in the leg while walking down Atatürk Avenue in Bandirma in Balikesir province shortly after 3 p.m. by an unknown assailant, Turkish media reported. One bullet hit a major vein in his left leg. He was taken by ambulance to Bandirma State Hospital, and later moved to the medical facility in Bursa, but doctors were unable to stop massive blood loss.

Police are investigating the incident.

IPI Board Member, and Chairperson of the IPI Turkey National Committee, Ferai Tinc said: "Local journalists are more in danger nowadays because the perpetrators cannot be easily found. IPI Turkey asks the authorities to find the killers as soon as possible and to bring them to court because people who want to silence journalists should not be encouraged by too long a process."

Tinc added: "We think that the climate enforced by the authorities when attacking and criticising the media with very harsh words encourages the perpetrators of such acts."

IPI Deputy Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said: "Our heartfelt condolences go out to Cihan's family, friends and colleagues for their tragic loss. This incident just goes to show that some people will stop at nothing to prevent journalists from reporting the truth. We call on the Bandirma police force to conduct a thorough investigation, and ensure that the perpetrators of this terrible crime are brought to justice."

Hayirsevener had recently received death threats in connection with his work. He had been reporting on a local corruption scandal involving the three proprietors of Bandirma's other major daily newspaper, who are currently in prison on corruption charges, Turkish media said.

Ihsan Kuruoglu, along with his son and brother, are in jail "for irregularities on a tender made by the local municipality," Hurriyet Daily News reported. The three were found guilty of accepting cash payouts from the local mayor. Before his death, Hayirsevener was reportedly trying to discover what the payments were for.
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