December 17, 2005

Turkey’s PM says EU trying to pressure judiciary

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
accused the European Union on Saturday of trying to influence
the country's judiciary over the trial of novelist Orhan Pamuk,
charged with insulting Turkish identity.

"The EU is now trying to put pressure on our judiciary.
This is wrong. The judiciary is looking at the case and its
decision should be awaited," Erdogan said in a statement.

The Pamuk trial, which has divided Turkey, was adjourned to
February 7 shortly after it began on Friday to give the Justice
Ministry time to decide how to proceed.

The case has raised concerns over freedom of expression in
Turkey which started membership talks with the EU in October.

Pamuk, 53, faces a possible three-year jail term for
"insulting Turkish identity" by saying in a Swiss newspaper
interview in February that no one dared discuss the massacre of
a million Armenians 90 years ago and the killings of 30,000
Kurds in the past two decades.

As Pamuk made the remarks while an old penal code was in
force, judges adjourned the trial to await a report from the
Justice Ministry on whether the case should continue, under the
old or the new penal code, or whether it should be stopped.