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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Mayor fined for removing 'obscene' statue
Ankara
Ankara's pro-Islamic mayor objected to the statue
The mayor of Ankara has been ordered to pay 4bn Turkish lira (1,600) to a sculptor whose work he removed from a park on the grounds of obscenity.

Artist Mehmet Aksoy's statue of a nude was damaged after mayor Melih Gokcek had it taken down and removed from the Turkish capital in 1994.


It is not appropriate to throw sculpture into a depot because it is considered obscene

Judge Sami Ozfirat
On Tuesday an Ankara court fined Mr Gokcek, who is still mayor, for damages plus interest - and ordered that he pay for repairs to the work, according to newspaper reports.

The decision of the Sixth Ankara Court of First Instance, made after a series of appeals, is final.

Judge Sami Ozfirat defended the rights of artists as he explained the verdict, according to the Anatolia news agency.

He said: "It is not appropriate to throw any sculpture into a depot because it is considered obscene.

"The evaluation of societal morals and moral heretics cannot be done subjectively according to a citizen's personal understanding and feelings," he added.

The judge's verdict also stated: "If we do not want to vanish in the field of culture, artists should be valued and should be supported.

"We cannot improve in the field of culture if we do not allow people freedom in creating works in the society they will live in, in the future.

'Obscenity'

"Everybody should be free to talk about their understanding of art and expression."

In 1994, Mayor Gokcek said: "I spit on this kind of art - they call obscenity art."

The court agreed that Mr Aksoy's status as an artistic personality was injured by the remarks.

The verdict also ordered that the statue, entitled In the World of Fairies, be restored to its original form.

The removal of the statue led to fierce criticism from artists and women's groups, who saw the move as vandalism and an infringement of freedom of expression.

See also:

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