AFP, ReutersThe European Parliament observed a minute's silence on Wednesday in memory of slain journalist Hrant Dink, a leading member of Turkey's tiny Armenian minority.
"I would like, in the name of the European Parliament to express our indignation," said the assembly's president Hans-Gert Poettering during a plenary session in Brussels. The fact that thousands attended Dink's burial "gives us hope that this sad event will be a catalyst for the Turkish authorities to go forward with fresh reforms to guarantee freedoms," he added.
The European Union has repeatedly called on candidate nation Turkey to reform its penal code which limits the freedom of expression.
Dink was gunned down outside the offices of his bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos in central Istanbul on January 19. The 52-year-old was hated by nationalists for calling the World War I massacres of Armenians genocide and urging an open debate into this controversial period in Turkish history.
An Istanbul court on Wednesday jailed another suspect over his murder, bringing to seven the number of people arrested in the investigation, Anatolia news agency reported. It was not immediately clear on what charges Salih Hacisalihoglu, a 30-year-old man from the northern city of Trabzon, was sent to prison. Among the other six suspects is the alleged assailant, 17-year-old Ogun Samast, a jobless secondary school graduate, who, officials say, has confessed to gunning down Dink
The probe has so far suggested that the suspects, all of them young people from Trabzon, did not belong to any known underground group but were under the sway of ultra-nationalist ideas and wanted to take the law in their own hands against what they saw as rising threats to Turkey's unity. The city's governor and police chief were removed from office last week after they came under fire for failing to act on a series of violent incidents in the city, including the murder of an Italian Catholic priest by a 16-year-old boy last year.
The press called for more heads to roll Wednesday following allegations that the police had received a tip-off last year about plans being made in Trabzon to kill Dink, but did not follow up on the intelligence, provided by one of the suspects currently in jail who had been recruited as a police informer. The Istanbul authorities are also under fire for failing to give Dink special protection even though the journalist wrote in his articles about receiving threats and hate mail.
In a related development, Nobel-prize winning Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk has cancelled a trip to Germany at short notice, his German publisher said on Wednesday, as concerns for his personal security grow. Pamuk's safety became an issue after the murder of Dink. A key suspect in that murder, escorted by police into a court house, warned Pamuk to be careful.
Pamuk, who won the Nobel prize for literature in October, had been due to visit several German cities, including Cologne, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Munich on a book reading tour starting at the end of this week.
"We heard from him yesterday afternoon that he had decided to cancel," said a spokeswoman for Hanser publishers in Munich. "It was his decision but he gave no reason."
German media reported the writer had been worried about a possible attack although Berlin police said they were unaware of any threat. The government declined to comment other than to say they did not know the reason for Pamuk's decision.
Both Dink and Pamuk have been prosecuted under laws restricting freedom of expression in Turkey, which wants to join the European Union. In a what was seen as a test case for freedom of speech in Turkey, Pamuk was tried for insulting "Turkishness" after telling a Swiss paper in 2005 that 1 million Armenians had died in Turkey during World War One and 30,000 Kurds had perished in recent decades. Though the court dismissed the charges on a technicality, other writers and journalists are still being prosecuted under the article and can face a jail sentence of up to three years.
PEN, a body which speaks up for persecuted writers, said threats against Pamuk had to be taken seriously and urged the EU to be strict with Turkey. "The EU should continue to make clear that entry for Turkey is only possible if democracy is stronger there," Germany's PEN centre President Johano Strasser told German radio.
Pamuk, whose best-known novels include "My Name is Red" and "Snow", has a sizeable following in Germany, home to about 2.5 million people of Turkish descent. Kenan Kolat, head of the TGD Turkish Communities in Germany, said he did not know the background to the affair but saw no danger for the author if he came to Germany.
"Of course there are nationalists here, too, but I would really not expect any violence," Kolat told Reuters.