ANKARA (Reuters) — Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s Nobel Prize-winning author, said he may face new compensation claims for remarks he made about the Armenian Genocide, despite an earlier acquittal in a criminal trial, the Anatolian news agency said on Saturday.
Turkey’s Court of Appeals this week overturned a lower court decision that had dismissed the claims of personal damages against Pamuk, 56, paving the way for a new case.
“I understand that I could be tried again, but nothing is certain,” said Pamuk, who was speaking at a book fair in the Italian city of Turin, according to state-run Anatolian. “In any case, I’m not apprehensive.”
The compensation suit stemmed from an interview with a Swiss magazine in 2005 when Pamuk said “30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were killed” in Turkey. Turkey denies the Armenian Genocide between 1915 and 1923 and spends millions of dollars annually to prevent governments from officially recognizing its crime against the Armenians. Article 301 of the Turkish penal code makes it a crime to talk about the Genocide.
Pamuk’s interview sparked a criminal case, but he was cleared of all charges and avoided a jail sentence on a technicality in 2006 amid an international outcry over the trial, which the European Union called a violation of free expression. The author of “Snow” and “My Name Is Red” went on to win the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The civil suit’s six plaintiffs, who seek 36,000 liras ($23 million) in damages, include members of a support group for families of soldiers killed fighting Kurdish separatists and a nationalist lawyer who brought the criminal case against Pamuk, Radikal newspaper said.
“Unfortunately, the judiciary in my country toils with political (issues),” Pamuk said, according to Anatolian. “This is not a good thing when legal institutions are supposed to be the foundation for democracy. Without freedom, there is no justice, so I think speaking freely is my duty.”