ANKARA: 32 People Convicted Under 301 In 3-Month Period


Zaman Online
July 16 2008

Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Å~^ahin has stated that 32 individuals
were convicted under the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code
(TCK) in the first three months of this year.

In response to a parliamentary query made yesterday by Nationalist
Movement Party (MHP) Aydın deputy Recep Taner, Å~^ahin said: "In
the first three months of 2008 there were 103 court cases regarding
301. Thirty-two individuals were convicted, and the court ruled for
the acquittal of 74 people. Eight of the 32 convicted were sentenced to
jail terms, 11 were given fines. Four received both jail sentences and
fines. Among the eight given jail sentences, the sentences of five were
commuted to fines and the sentences of the other three were suspended."

A recent amendment to the infamous article has improved matters. One
of the changes to Article 301, which previously criminalized "insulting
Turkishness" and has long been seen as an obstacle to freedom of speech
in Turkey, made it obligatory for prosecutors to secure approval from
the Justice Ministry before launching cases on 301-related charges. The
amendment was adopted in May of this year. In the past, the article
in question had been repeatedly challenged, particularly with respect
to the charges filed against Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and
Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was assassinated after
he was brought before the court.