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Baseless Case Against Turkish Christians Further Prolonged

Justice Ministry receives international inquiry about progress of trial.

2/15/2010 Turkey (Compass Direct News) – Barely five minutes into the latest hearing of a more than three-year-old case against two Christians accused of “insulting Turkishness and Islam,” the session was over. The prosecution had failed to produce their three final witnesses to testify against Hakan Tastan and Turan Topal for alleged crimes committed under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code. At the Jan. 28 hearing, the court issued instructions for one witness to testify at the next hearing, another to submit his “eyewitness” testimony in writing, and no further action was taken to summon the third witness. Judge Hayrettin Sevim informed the plaintiff and defense lawyers that recently his court had been requested to supply the Justice Ministry with a copy of relevant documents and details from the case file. An inquiry outside Turkey about the progress of the case, he said, prompted the request. Seven different state prosecutors have been assigned to the case since Prosecutor Ahmet Demirhuyuk declared at the fourth hearing in July 2007 that “not a single concrete, credible piece of evidence” had been produced to support the accusations against the Protestant defendants. After Demihuyuk recommended that the charges be dropped and the two Christians acquitted, he was removed from the case.

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