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Turk Justice minister calls for apology from Turkish novelist

Justice minister calls for apology from Turkish novelist  accused of 
insulting nation
 
AP Worldstream; Jan  06, 2006
SELCAN HACAOGLU

Turkey's justice minister on Friday called on novelist Orhan Pamuk to
apologize to the nation for remarks that landed him in court, and said
he would decide whether to drop charges against the writer before a
Feb. 7 hearing.  European officials have demanded that Turkey drop the
case against Pamuk and do more to protect freedom of
_expression. Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, who has the final say in
whether to proceed with the trial, urged the author to apologize to
the Turkish people for his remarks.

"I would do it, I would say 'I am sorry,'" Cicek said during a live
interview on private NTV television. "I wish he would."

Cicek said speeding up Pamuk's trial would amount to unfair "VIP
treatment."

Using a new law that makes it a crime to insult Turkey, authorities
charged Pamuk after a Swiss newspaper quoted him as saying: "30,000
Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody
but me dares to talk about it."

Pamuk's remarks referred to two of the most painful episodes in recent
Turkish history: the massacre of Armenians during World War I, which
Turkey insists was not a planned genocide, and recent guerrilla
fighting in Turkey's overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul acknowledged the case had tarnished the
country's image abroad and said that laws limiting freedom of
_expression could be changed.

Cicek criticized Pamuk for not making timely conciliatory remarks,
hinting that such a move would have prevented his trial.

"Why didn't he come out and say: 'I never said such a thing'" Cicek
asked.  "He should have said: 'I apologize to my nation.'"

The trial was halted by a judge on Dec. 16, the day it began, to wait
for the consent of the Justice Ministry.

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