Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Turkish prosecutor demands up to 15 years' imprisonment for dozens of Kurdish mayors

The Associated Press
ANKARA, Turkey: A Turkish prosecutor on Tuesday asked a court to imprison more than 50 Kurdish mayors for allegedly supporting a separatist Kurdish guerrilla group by asking Denmark's prime minister to keep a Kurdish television station on the air.
The prosecutor in his closing arguments asked the court in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast, to sentence 53 mayors to up to 15 years each on charges of aiding and abetting a terrorist group. The prosecutor asked the court to acquit three other mayors.
The court adjourned the trial until May 8 at the request of the defense.
The mayors have pleaded innocent and say that their letter was an act of "free speech." The trial is seen as the latest test of freedom of speech in Turkey, which has been under pressure from the European Union to strengthen the rights of its Kurdish minority and eliminate limits on free speech.
The mayors, mostly from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party. were indicted last year after writing a letter to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen asking him to keep the Roj TV station, which is banned in Turkey, on the air in Denmark , despite claims by Turkey that it is a propaganda machine of the rebel group Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK.


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