First legal defense in Kurdish given, though law not yet official

First legal defense in Kurdish given, though law not yet official

First legal defense in Kurdish given, though law not yet official

DHA photo

The first defense testimony in Kurdish was permitted in a court on Jan. 25, despite the law allowing defense in mother tongues having yet to officially come into force by being to be published in the Official Gazette. 

Former Batman mayor, Nejdet Atalay, a suspect in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial currently ongoing in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, was the first person to make use of the new right. His plea in Kurdish was officially put in the court’s record by the judge.
Atalay’s lawyer, Mustafa Yıldız, acted as translator during the plea. Atalay was not able to formally request a translator as the new legal regulations have yet to be published in the Official Gazette, Doğan News Agency has reported.
During Atalay’s testimony, the defense also protested about the time restriction given by the court. Defense lawyers said there should be no restriction, as Atalay was giving a testimony for the first time in the language he had chosen. The judge responded by stressing that the law had still yet to officially come into force. 
There are 175 suspects in the KCK trial, of whom 108 are standing trial while under arrest. Courts had previously refused demands by suspects in the KCK case to speak in Kurdish while giving their defense pleas in court, causing the trials to become deadlocked. 
A law enabling suspects to speak in their mother tongue in courts was approved by Parliament late Jan. 24. During the drawn out discussions in Parliament, Kurdish representatives from the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) engaged in scuffles with deputies of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which strongly opposed the new measures.
The new arrangement is part of an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code (CMK) and to the Law on Execution of Penalties and Security Precautions. The amendment also allows for married prisoners to conduct conjugal visits with their spouses without the presence of prison staff between three to 24 hours once every three months.
EU welcomes the law
The amendment drew positive reactions from EU officials, with EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle welcoming them in comments emailed to Reuters. “This is an important step towards having a broader access to public services in mother tongues. We are looking forward to rapid implementation,” Füle said.