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Author and publisher each face seven-year prison sentences for "spreading propaganda"

(BIANET/IFEX) - 30 March 2010 - After a change of prosecutors at the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court, the new prosecutor has decided that the behaviour of the characters in the novel "More difficult decisions than death", written by N. Mehment Güler and published by Ragıp Zarakolu, is "disruptive".

In a previous hearing on 19 November 2009, prosecutor Mustafa Çavuşolğlu demanded the acquittal of Zarakolu and Güler, based on his opinion that "no elements of crime occurred". Nonetheless, in the latest hearing on 25 March 2010, prosecutor Savaş Kırbaş reckoned the utterances of the protagonists were "dangerous" and requested a prison sentence for Güler on charges of "spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization".

Both defendants are facing prison sentences of up to seven years based on article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law. The defendants are not in detention.

Prosecutor Kırbaş objected to the book's depiction of co-operation between members of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in rural areas.

The defendants' lawyer, Özcan Kılıç, requested to have the literary value of the work assessed by an expert but the court dismissed his request. A final decision in the case is expected on 10 June.

"Turkey has to deal with a conflict that has lasted for 30 years and cost many lives," said Güler. "I decided to deal with the problems in literature because I think this is the best way to fix the social trauma. You cannot prepare an indictment by plucking bits and pieces from a literary work, choosing which serves your purpose and breaking it into pieces", Güler indicated.

A paragraph on the back of the book's cover referring to the military coup of September 1980 cover has also been cited in the case.

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