Tuesday, September 26, 2006

DTP mayors' trial begins today

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

The trial of local pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) mayors starts today on charges of sending a letter to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in December 2005 requesting that a television station Ankara claims is a mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) not be closed down.

The case was opened when the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation into 56 DTP mayors for a letter they wrote to Rasmussen asking that the pro-PKK Roj TV remain operating.

The DTP mayors asked the Danish prime minister in their letter to keep Roj TV on air in Denmark despite pressure from Ankara , which demanded that Denmark revoke the station's broadcasting license.

But the Danish government has refused to acquiesce, citing freedom of speech, saying that Danish police have been investigating whether Roj TV has any ties with the PKK, something the station repeatedly has denied.

The indictment by the prosecutor says Roj TV is the reincarnation of pro-PKK television stations Med TV and Medya TV, whose broadcasting licenses were pulled by British and French authorities due to their connections with the PKK.

The indictment also says the DTP mayors' letter aimed at the continuity of Roj TV broadcasts in the Scandinavian country, referring to a sentence in the letter that said: "The elimination of this voice [Roj TV] will amount to the loss of an important mechanism in the struggle for basic freedoms."

In their testimonies, Iğdır's Hoşhaber Mayor Nusret Aras and Adıyaman's Yaylakonak Mayor Hasan Karakaya said they did not agree with the content of the letter, adding that they did not know who wrote it, the indictment read.

The DTP mayors are now facing up to 15 years in prison under Articles 314 and 220 of the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK).


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