Kurdish politicians receive 7.5 years in jail

The 11th High Criminal Court of Ankara made its final decision on Friday on a case opened for the third time against former deputies of the now-defunct pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP).

Kurdish politicians receive 7.5 years in jail
The court sentenced the four deputies, Leyla Zana, Hatip Dicle, Selim Sadak and Orhan Doðan, to seven-and-a-half years in jail for "being a member of and praising a terrorist organization," after their release in 2004 after a decade in jail for the same charges.

The Kurdish politicians have stood trial two times since 1991, when they entered Parliament on the ticket of a center-left party but lost their seats in 1994 after the DEP was outlawed for having alleged links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Expressing deep disappointment over the ruling, the lawyer for the four deputies, Yusuf Alataþ, who also heads the Human Rights Association (ÝHD), told Today's Zaman that the ruling was contrary to his expectations.

"The court eventually made the exact same ruling as in 1994. However, since there is a new penal code now, it gave a 7.5-year sentence instead of 15. From the very beginning to the end, there was collaboration between the prosecutor and the judge who never tried to seek the truth, not even once, throughout the case. One can easily understand this solely by looking at the fact that they were calling the defendants "convicts" throughout the trial process. The only thing they tried and eventually accomplished in this case was to correct slightly the original 1994 decision so that it would now technically comply with the principles of the European Court of Human Rights. I'm disappointed because I wished there would have been a new decision in line with the new understanding embedded in the judicial reforms that were carried out to integrate the principles of international law into the Turkish legal system."

Leyla Zana was the 1995 recipient of the European Parliament's Sakharov human rights award. The four were elected to the managing board of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), the political descendent of the DEP, at a recent convention held two weeks ago. The decision comes at a time of heated debate on whether former deputies of the DEP can be actively involved in politics in Turkey.

Under the Turkish Constitution, individuals who have previously been sentenced to more than one year in prison cannot be elected as deputies, however, recent amendments to the Turkish Penal Code have paved the way for former DEP deputy Leyla Zana and her colleagues to re-enter the political arena.

In its party congress held the previous day in Ankara, the DTP decided to enter Parliament by having its candidates run as independents rather than as party members to circumvent the country's 10 percent election threshold for political parties to enter parliament.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16