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Journalist given suspended 10-month sentence

(BIANET/IFEX) - 12 May 2011 - The Yuksekova 1st Criminal Court of First Instance has sentenced Erkan Capraz, publication director of the local "Yuksekova Haber" newspaper, published in Hakkari, to a suspended sentence of ten months for an article posted on the paper's website in April 2010.

The court ruled that the article by journalist Selim Sakli, entitled "We are not brothers!", published on the daily's website on 27 April 2010, "incited the public to hatred and hostility". The story criticized an attack on Ahmet Turk, former chair of the defunct Democratic Society Party (DTP), by Ismail Celik in Samsun, which resulted in a broken nose for Turk. The article discussed the impact of the attack on the Kurdish people.

The court ruling was handed down on 22 March but Capraz was only notified of the ruling on 10 May. In a statement made to Bianet, the journalist expressed his confusion.

As part of his sentence, Capraz will be deprived of certain civil rights until his conditional release, including holding a public office, voting or running for office, exercising parental rights such as guardianship and custody, managing or auditing a foundation, association, union, company, co-operative or political party, exercising a profession or art on behalf of a public institution or a professional organization belonging to a public institution, executing a freelance profession or working as a tradesperson.

The sentence, originally set at one year, was later mitigated to 10 months by the trial court judge. Capraz is not able to appeal the decision. The sentence will only be executed if the journalist commits the same or a similar crime within the next five years, during which time he will be on probation.

Capraz was previously tried on charges of "spreading propaganda for the PKK", the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, after he published photos of a PKK raid on the Aktutun Police Station. The Van 4th High Criminal Court acquitted the journalist on 31 October 2008. Five other investigations against Capraz were dropped as well.

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