Representatives of many international organisations concerned with human rights and freedom of expression were in court when the trial of publisher Mr Ahmet Tastan began in Istanbul on Tuesday (October 17).
Representatives of many international organisations concerned with human rights and freedom of expression were in court when the trial of publisher Mr Ahmet Tastan began in Istanbul on Tuesday (October 17). Mr Tastan is accused of breaking laws prohibiting communism by publishing the programme of the outlawed Turkish communist party. Some observers believe the trial contravenes provisions of the United Nationals Human Rights charter to which Turkey is a signatory. Defence lawyers claimed a first-round victory after the case was adjourned until the end of the year.
SYNOPSIS: Many European lawyers and Trade Unionists were present at the trial, which they claim has implications for Human rights. International interest in the case began in March, when Mr Tastan was arrested. He is a publisher of several left-wing journals and periodicals.
The prosecution charges Mr Tastan with two violations of the Turkish Penal code following his publication of the programme of the outlawed Turkish communist party, and the prosecutor demands a prison sentence of between eight and fifteen years.
The section of the Turkish Penal Code under which he is charged was used extensively in the early 1960's following the military coup when a government crackdown on the left led to the jailing of many journalists and intellectuals. It is reported that the government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has considered abolishing the parts of the Code which Mr Tastan has allegedly violated, but decided against doing so in view of current political pressures in Turkey.
The defence lawyer argued that the charge Mr Tastan faced broke the letter and spirit of the Turkish constitution. He asked for the case to be transferred to a constitutional court. The court adjourned until December 28 to consider the request.