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Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK

World: Europe

European court rules against Turkey

Most cases considered by the Court concerned journalists or authors

The European Court of Human Rights has found Turkey guilty in 15 cases of violating the rights of its citizens and ordered Ankara to pay compensation.

Twelve of the cases were brought by journalists or authors, alleging that the Turkish Government had prevented them discussing or reporting on the situation of the country's ethnic Kurds.

The plaintives had also charged Ankara with violating laws on freedom of expression, torture, the right to a fair trial and a victim's right to a proper inquiry in a murder case.

In 13 of the 15 cases, Turkish nationals of Kurdish origin complained they were unjustly imprisoned or fined for having expressed political opinions. The plaintiffs were fined or sent to jail for up to 20 months for writing books or articles which Ankara denounced as separatist propaganda and inciting hatred.

The Court found that in each of the 13 cases, the convictions amounted to an interference in the applicant's right to freedom of expression.

No anti-Kurdish discrimination

[ image: The court did not find that these were cases of anti-Kurdish discrimination]
The court did not find that these were cases of anti-Kurdish discrimination
But the court rejected the plaintiffs' claims of discrimination because of their Kurdish origins.

In one case, a woman claimed her husband had been killed with the connivance of the security forces and because he was of Kurdish origin. She said there had not been an effective official investigation into the killing.

The court rejected the charges of discrimination and said there was insuffficient proof the security forces were involved in the murder. But it did find that there had not been an effective official inquiry.

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