Trial of writer suspended

Dec. 16, 2005 at 1:13 PM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- A judge in Istanbul Friday suspended the trial of Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, accused of insulting his nation through his remarks about the killings of Kurds.

Just after the trial started the judge halted it, saying it can proceed only after the justice ministry determines if Pamuk is to be tried under Turkey's old laws or under recent, revised ones, the BBC reported. The new laws treat insults to the nation as a criminal offense.

Pamuk's remarks related to killings of Kurds and Ottoman Armenians in the early 20th century, which Turkey insists cannot be termed genocide.

The European Union, which is negotiating with Turkey over its membership, has said the trial raises doubts about free speech in Turkey. Pamuk's next court hearing is set for Feb. 7.

Pamuk's charges stem from a magazine interview earlier this year in which he reportedly said: "One million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares talk about it." Turkey says many ethnic Turks were also killed in that period.

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