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Journalist faces up to three years in prison for "insulting" defendant in court case

(BIANET/IFEX) - 12 July 2010 - Journalist Nazli Ilicak is facing up to three years in prison for writing an article about accusations that Ergenekon defendant Hasan Atilla Ugur was behind an order to kill military commander Ridvan Ozden.

The Ergenekon terror organization is charged with plotting to overthrow the government by creating chaos in the country.

Prosecutor Alper Tunga Akgulen from the Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance demanded a prison sentence of three months to two years for Ilıcak. The journalist is accused of "insulting" Ugur "via the media". The charge stems from her article entitled, "Unsolved murders on the agenda once again", which was published in the "Sabah" national newspaper on 2 December 2008.

During the 8 July 2010 hearing, prosecutor Akgulen claimed that Ilicak's article was the main reason why Ugur is seen by the public as an "abettor of the murder".

Ilicak's article, which referred to Ergenekon suspects such as Ugur and Veli Kucuk, stated, "Many unsolved murders were committed in the region of Kocaeli [east of Istanbul], where Veli Kucuk was on duty as the Regional Gendarmerie Commander. It was said that the order to kill Ridvan Ozden, Regiment Commander of Mardin, was organized by him".

The prosecutor said that the trial was opened because Ilicak published an "unfounded" article that "targeted Ugur's honour and dignity" with the aim of "attempting to influence a fair trial". Akgulen stated that the article constituted a "pejorative value judgment". On other charges filed against the journalist, the prosecutor demanded Ilıcak's acquittal.

Ilicak's lawyer will prepare his client's defence accordingly.

In her article, Ilicak also quoted Tomris Ozden, wife of Colonel Ozden, Regiment Commander of the Mardin Gendarmerie, who was allegedly killed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Tomris Ozden said, "My husband did not die in clashes with the PKK, he was killed." Ilicak had further mentioned Tomris Ozden's opinion that her husband's murder was related to Ergenekon.

Ilicak was recently convicted in both a compensation case and a criminal trial for her article titled, "The immunity of the president", in which she described Osman Kacmaz, the presiding judge of the 1st High Criminal Court of Sincan (Ankara), as "officious".

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    Journalist Nazlı Ilıcak had previously been sentenced to eleven months and 20 days in prison on the same charges.

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