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Defense lawyers boycott KCK trial in Turkey

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 4/27/2011 12:00:00 AM | ÖZGÜR ÖĞRET

The Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, trial is gridlocked due to the court’s 'stubbornness,' the head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association has said.

The Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, trial is gridlocked due to the court’s “stubbornness,” which prompted defense lawyers to boycott a hearing earlier this week, the head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association has said.

Defense lawyers boycotted a hearing in the case Monday and said they would not come back to court unless the court agrees to include defense in Kurdish in the case file and addresses their concerns about how the suspects are being dealt with.

The court ruled that if the lawyers do not attend the next hearing and the suspects do not pick new legal representation, the Diyarbakır Bar Association should be asked for new lawyers, a demand the group’s head said neither the association nor its clients would meet.

Asked if this will create gridlock, defense lawyer Emin Aktar, the head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, said: “The trial is already in a gridlock; six months have passed and not one defense has gone on record.”

The KCK case deals with the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Since the beginning of the trial, the court has rejected the suspects’ demands to make their defense in Kurdish, even though this has been accepted at Turkish courts in the past, Aktar said. “It is meaningless for us to be there,” he added.

“The court will not even add defense in Kurdish to the [case] file, let alone allow it to be read,” he said, adding that according to the law, the defenses should be translated into Turkish and added to the case files.

“There are lots of wire-tapped conversations in Kurdish used as evidence against the suspects,” Aktar said. “You [the court] translated then and [added them to the file]. Then take those out too.”

The defense lawyers have also objected to the suspects being brought to trial in groups of six, rather than altogether, even though the courtroom is large enough to handle all of them and none of the suspects caused any disturbance or insulted the court when they were brought before it, Aktar said.

“It is against the universal concept of law. The indictment accuses them of being in an organization together, of being connected to each other somehow, so they should be tried together, but you will bring some of them to the hearings and not others,” he said. “You will start to read the evidence and those not present will not be able to answer the [claims] about them. And this would be called a trial.”

Moreover, Aktar said, the defense lawyers are unaware of which suspects will be brought to court beforehand and thus cannot prepare a defense. He called for the Justice Ministry to intervene to solve the problem or for the court to “give up on its stubbornness.”

The case against the KCK comprises 152 suspects, including 12 mayors of several Southeast Anatolian cities, all elected from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, as well as many other local politicians. Hundreds more are under arrest in connection with the investigation.

[BOX]

[HH] Turkish police continue tearing down BDP tents

Turkish police continued on Tuesday night to tear down “democratic solution” tents set up by the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, in eastern and western Turkey.

Following a tent in Manisa being taken down for a second time, police entered and searched homes in the area’s Kurdish neighborhood, detaining 17. Similar incidents occurred Tuesday in İzmir, Mardin, Şırnak and Tunceli. Police claim the tents had Molotov cocktails inside or nearby and that they acted in a preemptive fashion.

Diyarbakır Bar Association chief Emin Aktar said police have been employing disproportionate force against recent protests, noting that demonstrator was shot and killed last week. If there are Molotov cocktails around, then suspects should be detained, he said, but added that is no reason to take down the tents, which he called a democratic tool of protest.

“If you will not allow democratic ways of struggle, you motivate people to violence,” Aktar said.

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