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Journalist fined for criticising judge

(BIANET/IFEX) - "Sabah" newspaper columnist Nazlı Ilıcak was fined TL 5,000 (approx. € 2,500) because she had described Judge Osman Kaçmaz as "officious".

In the hearing on 8 June 2010, the 2nd Criminal Court of Sincan (west of Ankara) found Ilıcak and "Sabah" owner Ahmet Çalık guilty of "attacking personal rights" in the article from 25 May 2009 entitled, "The President's Immunity". Court President Sevgi Boyacı asked for the monetary fine.

The Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance had previously sentenced Ilıcak to eleven months and 20 days in prison, after she was charged with insulting Kaçmaz because of the same article. The first sentence was commuted.

The recent judicial decision was the cause for criticism voiced by professional press organizations such as the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) and the Media Association.

Kaçmaz had initially demanded compensation of TL 30,000 (approx. € 15,500), including legal costs. Neither the complainant nor Ilıcak appeared in court for the latest hearing. Kaçmaz's lawyer, Baykal Doğan, reiterated his previous statements and requested the approval of the court.

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Judge Kaçmaz had intended to sue President Abdullah Gül in the context of an investigation into "lost millions", a corruption case in the 1990s. He was criticized after he overruled the decision of the Ankara Public Prosecution to dismiss procedures.

In a separate case, poet and author Ataol Behramoğlu stands trial because he criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Behramoğlu had voiced his criticism when he was a guest of the program "Neutral Zone" broadcast by CNN Türk.

He is facing a compensation claim of TL 20,000 (approx. € 10,000) at the Ankara 15th Criminal Court of First Instance. The court decided to request a recording of the program on CD from the Radio and Television Supreme Board (RTÜK) and to have the file reviewed by an expert. The case was continued on 9 June 2010.

Related to the AKP elections Behramoğlu said, "I do not say that AKP will not hold the elections. Yet, in my opinion they did everything, visible and invisible, to prevent elections by illegal and anti-democratic means".

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