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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
EU blasts Turkish author's trial
By Jonny Dymond
BBC News, Brussels

Orhan Pamuk
Orhan Pamuk is accused of publicly denigrating Turkish identity
The EU's enlargement commissioner and several MEPs have strongly criticised Turkey for bringing renowned author Orhan Pamuk to court.

Mr Pamuk has been charged under Turkey's criminal code with insulting the country's national character.

The court case followed comments by Mr Pamuk about the deaths of one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds in Turkey.

The trial of Turkey's most internationally-acclaimed author is not due to start until mid-December.

But his case has caught the eye of European politicians weighing up Turkey's bid for membership of the European Union.


Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, the official responsible for shepherding Turkey through the membership process, did not mention Mr Pamuk's case when he made his opening statement.

Journalists call for freedom of speech under Turkey's revised penal code
Turkish journalists protested over freedom of speech earlier this year
But he was pressed on the issue over and over again by members of the European Parliament.

They were clearly upset that the court had been brought under a new, supposedly more liberal penal code that the European Commission had pushed Turkey to introduce.

One MEP described the court case as "most unfortunate". Another stated that it was "unacceptable" that Turkey should join the EU while it still practised such restrictions on free speech.

Mr Rehn agreed that the court case was regrettable, while stressing that Turkey had made clear positive progress on human rights.

He said he had serious concerns over the interpretation of the penal code, and that the case was in contravention of the European convention on human rights.


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