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Cablegate: Turkey: Moj Says Court Erred in First Article 301

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RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAK #1142 1710953
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190953Z JUN 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6622
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 3023
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 4369
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS ANKARA 001142

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL OSCE TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: MOJ SAYS COURT ERRED IN FIRST ARTICLE 301
CONVICTION FOR INSULTING TURKISHNESS

REF: ANKARA 833

1. (U) Summary and comment: In the first high-profile verdict
to be handed down since parliament amended
controversial Penal Code Article 301 (insulting
"Turkishness"), an Istanbul court sentenced Armenian-British
publisher Ragip Zarakolu to pay a fine of 1400 YTL (USD
1100), for publishing a book discussing the 1915 mass-killing
of Armenians. Zarakolu vowed to appeal. A senior Justice
Ministry official disagreed with Turkish and international
press commentary that the result demonstrates recent
amendments to Article 301 would be ineffective. He told us
the court erred by not complying with the amended law's
mandate to have all prosecutions (new and active) authorized
by the MOJ; he predicted higher courts would reverse the
Zarakolu decision. End summary and comment.

-------------------------------------
Publisher Convicted Under Article 301
-------------------------------------
2. (U) Istanbul prosecutors initiated the case against
Zarakolu four years ago under TPC Article 159 -- Article
301's precursor -- for publishing the Turkish translation of
Armenian-British writer George Jerjian's "The Truth Will Set
Us Free," a story of the writer's family in 1915, and how a
Turkish soldier protected his grandmother from the Armenian
massacres. The court suspended the case numerous times, most
recently in early 2008 while Parliament debated Article 301
reforms passed on April 30 (reftel). The court sentenced
Zarakolu June 17 to five months' imprisonment, but commuted
his sentence to a 1400 YTL judicial fine (USD 1100).

3. (U) After the decision, Zarakolu said such rulings had
silenced many writers in Turkey but he would continue to
challenge the restrictions. "I was partly expecting this
result. But it is a struggle for the truth and it will go
on. I do not consider myself convicted. This is a
conviction for official history and for denial," he said.

4. (U) In reporting the result, most media interpreted the
court's decision as evidence the amended Article 301 would be
ineffective. The news coverage asserted that revising
Article 301 from insulting "Turkishness" to the "Turkish
state" had no impact on the court's decision. Media also
noted the court did not abide by Article 301's new
requirement that all cases be sent to the MOJ for review and
authorization to prosecute.

-----------------------------------------
MOJ Disagrees With Court's Interpretation
-----------------------------------------
5. (SBU) Ministry of Justice DG Aykut Kilic told us the court
inaccurately concluded it did not need to send the case to
the MOJ because MOJ reviewed the file when the case was
opened under Article 159. Amended Article 301 requires
courts to send both pending and newly filed cases to the MOJ
for review and authorization to prosecute, a requirement
Kilic noted that will increase the workload of the ministry's
Penal Department. (Note: There were over 1,500 Article 301
cases opened in 2006, according to MOJ statistics.) He
insisted the department is sufficiently equipped to handle
the task, having performed the same duty under Article 159.
Kilic cautioned us to watch for higher-court rulings on the
Zarakolu case, which he predicted would overturn the ruling
and require the court to submit the case to the MOJ for
review.


Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turk ey

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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