Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Turkish prosecutors have launched an inquiry into whether an EU lawmaker should stand trial for insulting the country's armed forces

BBC News:

Joost Lagendijk allegedly said that Turkish troops were provoking clashes with Kurdish separatists.

He was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the trial in Istanbul of Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, charged with insulting his nation's identity.

The Pamuk case is seen as a litmus test of Turkey's EU membership credentials.

He is among more than 60 writers and publishers to face charges under the same law which has cast a shadow over Turkey's commitment to freedom of speech just as it embarks on accession talks.

Mr Lagendijk, a Dutch MEP who co-chairs the EU parliament committee on Turkey, was part of a delegation attending the Pamuk hearing.

The prosecution will investigate whether Mr Lagendijk infringed laws that punish "insults to Turkish national identity, the republic and state institutions and organs".

The lawyers who filed the complaint want the MEP to be prosecuted under the same article used against Mr Pamuk, which makes insulting the military punishable by up to two years in prison.

"Where does he find the audacity to consider himself above and immune from Turkish laws and to insult the Turkish army and the Turkish judiciary?" they said in their petition to the prosecutor's office.

The same group of nationalist lawyers is also behind a complaint that led to Mr Pamuk's indictment.

Mr Pamuk will next appear before the courts on 7 February, when he will learn whether the Justice Ministry intends to proceed with the case.

The charges against him relate to a magazine interview in which he said 30,000 Kurds and one million Ottoman Armenians were killed in Turkey and no-one but him dares talk about it.

EU lawmaker faces Turkish probe

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