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Court schedules trial in case of murdered journalist, organised crime links suspected

(BIANET/IFEX) - 6 September 2010 - Eight months after the murder of journalist Cihan Hayirsevener, publication director of the "Guney Marmara'da Yasam" (Life in Southern Marmara) newspaper, the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court has scheduled a trial, which is due to start on 15 October 2010.

Hayirsevener was killed on 18 December 2009 in Bandirma (on the south coast of the Sea of Marmara) after he had been threatened because of his articles on corruption. He was shot in the leg in the centrally located Ataturk Avenue and died as a result of blood loss.

The journalist had reported on detention operations carried out by the police related to alleged corruption in calls for tenders issued by the Bandirma Municipality.

The police detained 29-year-old Serkan Erakkus in relation with the murder. Defendants Tolga O. and Ali T. were released pending trial.

Tensions had occurred between the regionally publishing Marmara group and the Ilkhaber group prior to the murder. One of the issues of discussion was the thermal power plant planned to be built in the region. Ilkhaber had criticized in their news items that the Marmara group opposed the building of the power plant.

The case related to the Hayirsevener murder will start on 15 October. Among the twelve defendants facing trial are Engin Arican, Ilkhaber newspaper publishing coordinator, the Bandirma Deputy Mayor, Talip Yildiz, and members of the family who publish the Ilkhaber daily, namely Ihsan Kuruoglu, Ilbey Kuruoglu and Osman Kuruoglu.

The defendants stand accused of "premeditated murder", "establishing an organization with the intent to commit a crime", "membership in an organization established with the intent to commit a crime", "spreading propaganda for an illegal organization and its aims" and "buying, carrying or possessing unlicensed weapons and ammunition".

Lawyer Birol Sahin, representing the Marmara Group, informed BIANET that the Bandirma Prosecution is convinced that the murder was committed in the scope of a criminal organization.

"We are involved in this case because the general publication director of the 'Yasam' newspaper was murdered because of the news he reported. We are part of this case in the name of freedom of expression and freedom of thought," Sahin said.

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