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Journalist receives suspended prison sentence

(BIANET/IFEX) - The Bakirköy (Istanbul) Criminal Court of First Instance has handed down a suspended prison sentence of one year, two months and 17 days to Mustafa Karaalioglu, the general publications director of the "Star" newspaper. Karaalioglu was charged for allegedly insulting the Constitutional Court based on an article he published on 6 June 2008, entitled "The talks are over, the contract is broken".

The article criticized the dismissal of a law by the Constitutional Court that would have lifted the headscarf ban at universities. Karaalioglu pointed out that the regulation was approved by 411 votes in the Turkish Grand National Assembly and supported by 80 percent of the country's citizens. "In fact, democracy and the judiciary were abolished", he wrote. The article concluded: "The constitutional system does not stand for a common regulation any more. The judiciary is the battering ram for the political war against the AK Party and for hostility and hatred against the people. The law is a tool for those people who sanctify the war. The law can be used as a crutch or bazooka to win the war".

The complaint against the journalist was filed by lawyer Mahmut Tanal, a member of the Provincial Disciplinary Committee of the Republican People's Party (CHP). Acting on the complaint, the Bakirköy press prosecutor, Ali Çakir, brought the case to trial, demanding a prison sentence of 14.5 years on charges of "inciting the public to hatred and hostility" and "insulting public officials on duty in a council".

The court acquitted the journalist of the charge of "inciting hatred and hostility". The suspended prison sentence of more than a year was handed down based on the allegation of "insulting" members of the high court. If Karaalioglu commits the same offence within the next five years, he will be required to serve the prison sentence. The decision against the publications director was published by the "Haber Türk" newspaper on 5 July 2010.

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