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Chaos In Courtroom Erupts At Trial Of Turkish Journalists

(RFE/RL) 7 February 2006 -- Scuffles broke out today at the trial of five Turkish journalists accused of insulting state institutions after writing articles questioning a Turkish court decision last September to ban a conference on Turkish 20th Century killings of Armenians.

Shortly after the trial began in Istanbul, a shouting match broke out between defense lawyers and nationalist lawyers who had filed the complaint that led to the lawsuit.

When the presiding judge asked police to remove the nationalist lawyers from the courtroom, the attorneys and officers punched and kicked each other.

The court later heard the defendants who claimed they had no intention of making insults in the articles.

The trial was adjourned until 11 April after the prosecution demand for time to evaluate the defense demands.

The columnists risk six months to 10 years in jail if found guilty.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul

On January 25, RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondent Mayis Alizade spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister ABDULLAH GUL about prospects for a breakthrough in resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

RFE/RL: The general understanding is that 2006 might be the year for a breakthrough in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict....

GUL: We hope an acceptable resolution will be reached in 2006. Our concern is that other factors might hinder [this process] if it is delayed and no solution can be found. The solution of this conflict would greatly ease the situation in the Caucasus.

RFE/RL: After a long controversy and discussion at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Azerbaijani delegation's credentials were approved. But, pointing to the shortcomings in democratization and reforms, PACE Raporteur Andreas Gross said PACE has been monitoring the situation in Azerbaijan for the last five years and there is no major improvement.

GUL: This is an important process. Every country goes through it. To boost democracy and reforms is something to benefit the countries themselves, and one should not leave it only to the European Council and the European Parliament. I am sure that, if there are problems [with regard to these reforms], the Azerbaijani government will deal with them, and these problems will be resolved. I believe the Council of Europe is very important for Azerbaijan. It wasn't easy to get to there. I know that myself because I worked for it quite hard.

RFE/RL: You are saying Azerbaijan should appreciate the Council of Europe's value?

GUL: No, both sides should appreciate [this relationship]. The Council of Europe is very important for Azerbaijan, as is Azerbaijan for the Council of Europe as an important country of the Caucasus. One should work to solve any problems.

For a complete archive of RFE/RL's coverage of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, click here.