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Daily Vakit to pay damages to 312 generals

ISTANBUL - Daily News with wires | 5/9/2010 12:00:00 AM |

A court has ordered daily Vakit to pay 1.8 million Turkish Liras in damages in a case involving 312 generals that has been criticized by Prime Minister Erdoğan.

A court has ordered daily Vakit to pay 1.8 million Turkish Liras in damages in a case involving 312 generals that has been criticized by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The case was filed Aug. 25, 2003, by 312 generals against the newspaper and Mehmet Doğan, an ex-member of the Supreme Board of Radio and Television, or RTÜK, the Anatolia news agency reported Friday.

The generals had asked for moral damages in the case, claiming that an op-ed written by Vakit columnist Asım Yenihaber, titled “The country where those not even worthy of being a corporal are granted a generalship,” had been a verbal attack against them.

Judge Adem Albayrak ruled against the claims about Mehmet Doğan, but ordered Vakit’s owner Nuri Aykon and the daily’s legally responsible official Harun Aksoy to pay 624,000 liras in damages, 2,000 liras to each of the plaintiffs, along with interest accrued since the start of the case, for a total of 1.8 million liras.

Vakit’s headline story about the ruling described the court order as a “lynch attempt.” The daily then told representatives from nongovernmental organizations that the court’s decision was an attempt to silence the newspaper.

Vakit also spoke with Prime Minister Erdoğan, who characterized the court decision as “extreme” and said that crime and punishment should be proportional.

“Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are indispensable parts of modern democracies,” Erdoğan said. “No punishment with the latent intention to oppress and intimidate the press complies with the premises of modern democracy. It is terribly wrong on the part of those who make an incorporated body pay for a columnist’s mistake.”

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