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Media Watch 2011

05 July 2011
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Simon Bahceli
Murder attempt made on journalist at anti-Ankara newspaper
A twenty-six-year-old Turkish man appeared in court yesterday accused of a failed attempt to murder journalist Ali Osman Tabak of the north’s outspoken Afrika newspaper on Sunday night.

The alleged would-be hit man, Turkish national Mustafa Yalcin, is said to have fired one shot at the journalist after entering the offices of the controversial Afrika newspaper early on Sunday evening. Tabak told the press later he escaped injury or death by “a hair’s breadth” by leaping out of the gunman’s line of fire. Yalcin was later arrested in possession of a Czech-made 7.65mm pistol believed to have been used in the attempted shooting.

Sunday’s shooting marks the second time this year the notoriously anti-Ankara newspaper has been hit by gunfire. In February, two shots were fired at the office’s door, and a note left warning the paper to refrain from its outspoken criticism of what it terms “Ankara’s occupation regime”. No one was arrested for the shooting, but the weapon believed to have been used was found abandoned at the north’s Ercan Airport, suggesting that the hitman had left the island.

Afrika’s editor-in-chief Sener Levent said yesterday however that the identity of the perpetrator of Sunday’s attack was clear to those who worked at the newspaper.

“Mustafa Yalcin came to the newspaper offices around two weeks ago and confessed to me that he had been assigned to shoot me, but that he’d decided he wasn’t going to do it,” Levent said. The editor added however that Yalcin had warned him the plan to kill him had not been abandoned, and that the only way to avoid death would be to cultivate “good relations with Ankara”.

This is something Levent has stoically refused to do. On the day of the shooting he ran a story featuring new evidence that points to the Turkish armed forces’ involvement in the murder of Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali in 1996. Adali was gunned down outside his house in Nicosia by an unknown hitman, but in 2009 Adali’s wife won a case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Turkey for its failure to investigate the murder. Levent’s report on Sunday refers to new evidence recently published by Turkish writer Timur Ince asserting that Adali’s murder was planned at the Turkish military’s headquarters in northern Nicosia.

Levent also claims that the Turkish Cypriot police, which still operates under emergency law provisions that place it under the direct command of the Turkish military in Ankara, failed to arrest Yalcin, despite him running a front page story on the gunman’s confession.
According to a statement given by Tabak to police shortly after Sunday’s incident, Yalcin walked into the offices of Afrika newspaper and asked to see Levent. When Tabak told him Levent was not there, Yalcin drew a gun from his waist and fired a shot towards Tabak, who managed to leap out of harm’s way. Yalcin is said to have then walked out of the building.

A police report said the gunman was later apprehended by three officers in the nearby Koskluciftlik district of north Nicosia in possession of a pistol and 13 rounds of ammunition.

A host of unions and other non-governmental organisations were swift to condemn Sunday’s shooting with most saying it was an attempt to gag free speech in the north. Some, including the head of the Communal Democracy Party (TDP) Mehmet Cakici, called for the Turkish Cypriot police’s immediate handing over to civil administration.