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Magazine editor faces up to seven and a half years in prison

(BIANET/IFEX) - Aziz Ozer, editorial manager of "Guney" magazine, is facing up to 7.5 years in prison for publishing an account by a PKK member and because of a caricature. After the first hearing on 7 October 2010, the trial was postponed to 17 February 2011 for the prosecutor's final speech.

Ozer is charged with "spreading propaganda for the PKK", the militant Kurdistan Workers Party.

The Istanbul 9th High Criminal Court is prosecuting Ozer in connection with an article entitled "The story of an incredible three-day resistance", written by Mehmet Sogut, and published in the magazine's 21 January issue. It described an armed conflict between security forces and a PKK member who got injured during the clashes from the perspective of the member of the organization.

The charges also stem from a short illustrated story called "The Judge", by Meray Ulgen, published in the January-March issue of the magazine. The caricature featured a gravestone with a crescent and a star and the name "Niyazi Martyr". The caricature is also the subject of the trial since it was seen as an "implication" that a security official who died in conflicts with the PKK "died for nothing". The prosecution deemed that the caricature was depicting "praise of force and violence" and "spreading propaganda for the PKK".

Ozer attended the 7 October hearing together with Cetin Desde, an employee of "Guney" magazine. The Istanbul Public Prosecutor, Hakan Karaali, opened the case on 11 May under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY). He demanded a prison sentence of 7.5 years for the journalist.

Ozer made his defence speech subsequent to the usual court procedures of confirming his identity. The journalist stated that he did not see any element of crime in the article and the caricature. He claimed that he published both the items in the magazine within the scope of freedom of expression. The court decided to entrust the file to the public prosecutor for the preparation of the prosecution's final speech. The case was postponed to 17 February 2011 due to the "busy trial calendar".

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