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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 21:54 GMT
Turkey insult law 'may be dumped'
Dutch MEP Joost Lagendijk
Lagendijk has been threatened with prosecution under the law
Turkey's foreign minister has suggested that a controversial law against insults to the state or its institutions could be changed.

Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk is currently being tried under the law, while lawyers are also threatening to use it against a Dutch legislator.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said: "There may be need for a new law."

"We're trying to make Turkey a country in which democracy and human rights are as valid as in any EU country."

On Tuesday Turkish prosecutors launched an inquiry into whether Joost Lagendijk, a member of the European Parliament, should stand trial for insulting the country's armed forces.

He 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 Mr Pamuk, who is charged with insulting his nation's identity, for raising the subject of Kurds and Armenians killed in Turkey.

Nationalist lawyers

The Pamuk case is seen as a litmus test of Turkey's commitment to free speech and its EU membership credentials.

The novelist is one of more than 60 writers and publishers to face charges under Article 301 of the penal code.

Mr Gul told the NTV news channel he thought the prosecutions - brought after complaints by a group of nationalist lawyers - were not "good for Turkey".

He said the government could not intervene in the judicial process, but could change the law.

"We cannot interfere with the courts, but we can monitor how laws are implemented and interpreted and whether that is the direction Turkey wants to take," he said.

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