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051216 - Pamuk regrets he was unable to defend himself following postponement
16 December 2005- /ISTANBUL Cihan News Agency-National
Pamuk regrets he was unable to defend himself following postponement
Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk today stated that he regretted that he had been unable to defend himself today at the opening day of his trial in Istanbul.

The trial of Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk which opened today in Istanbul has been adjourned until February 7 2006.

The Sisli Court in Istanbul today decided to adjourn the case pending arrival of necessary documents from the Justice Ministry.

Afterwards at the Iletisim Publishing House in the city, Pamuk and his lawyer Haluk Inanici afterwards issued written statements to the media regarding the court's postponement decision. Pamuk stated," It was a pity the file was still in the post. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to defend myself."

Pamuk's lawyer Mr Inanici complained of the judges decision to wait until the opening of the trial in order to make the postponement announcement."The court today gave a decision which could have been given previously. It has stopped proceedings and postponed the hearing until 7 February 2006," he stated.

Orhan Pamuk is facing trial for stating in an interview with a Swiss newspaper last February that one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds had been killed in Turkey and that nobody had the courage to say so. The charge Pamuk faces under article 301 of the Turkish penal code is that of having insulted Turkish dignity in his remarks and he could be jailed for up to 3 years if found guilty. Pamuk has denied, however, that he used the word 'genocide' as had been widely reported in theTurkish media.

The opening of Pamuk's trial was marked by protests by rightist groups in front of the Sisli court building. Eggs were thrown at the vehicle in which he left the court and the vehicle itself was damaged.

The hearing was also attended by several Turkish writers and intellectual showing their support for Pamuk, including writer Ahmet Altan and ethnic Armenian editor Hrant Dink, who recently received a 6-month suspended sentence on a charge of insulting Turkish dignity under article 301 of the new penal code - the same charge which Pamuk faces.

Other observers at the hearing included Turkey-EU Parliamentary Commission co-chairman Joost Lagendijk, Turkish MP Cem Ozdemir, German Green Party MEP Daniel Cohn Bendit and British Minister for Europe Dennis MacShane. A European Parliament delegation led by Dutch Christian Democrat MEP Camiel Eurlings was also present. Eurlings was accompanied by 4 other MEPs - socialist Panagiotis Beglitis, liberal Andrew Duff, conservative Geoffrey Van Orden and United Left member Feleknas Uca.

Outside the packed Sisli court today, MEP Eurlings declared to reporters: "I think this first day of the trial is a sad day for Turkey ... because the justice minister did not take the opportunity to cancel the case."

At a later press conference, Eurlings stated that prosecution lawyers had acted aggressively and had pushed British Minister for Europe Dennis MacShane.

In an appeal to the Turkish authorities, Eurlings said, "Please change the legislation and don't let this case prevent Turkey from being an EU member. This law will have a huge effect on the negotiation process."

Enlargement Commissioner Rehn on Thursday had stated that Turkey and not Orhan Pamuk would be judged when the case opened. He added that the Pamuk case would be a test for Turkey on freedom of expression and also regarding the reforms which have been carried out in Turkey.

Referring in a London Times interview published last Saturday to his position as a writer faced with what happened to the Otoman Armenian during WWI, Pamuk stated, "I am a writer. It is humiliating to live in a country where this subject [the Armenian massacre of 1915-17] is a taboo and cannot be discussed."

Orhan Pamuk is one of Turkey's bestselling authors both at home and abroad where he is seen as one of the main representatives of modern Turkish literature.

In early November Mr Pamuk was awarded the Prix Médicis étranger in France for his most recent novel 'Snow'.

On October 23 this year Pamuk received the Peace Prize of the Germany's book traders association, the country's highest literary honour in Frankfurt.

Pamuk's name had also been mooted for the 2005 Nobel Literature Prize which in the end went to British playwright Harold Pinter.

The fate of the Armenians under the Ottoman Empire during WW1 and after is still a sensitive issue in Turkey. Armenians claim that 1.5 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed as part of an intentional and systematic campaign of genocide during World War I.

Turkey denies the allegations claiming that 200,000 Armenians died during forced migrations due to cold weather and bad transportation conditions
Frome Anette, USA


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