AKP moves to curb visits to PKK leader

AKP moves to curb visits to PKK leader

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
The ruling party has drafted a bill designed to cut off communication between the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, and PKK militants via lawyers.

The bill, submitted to Parliament by Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Mehmet Doğan Kubat, adds a provision to the Law on the Execution of Sentences and Preventive Measures that would enable the authorities to ban lawyers from visiting convicted prisoners for up to six months.

The ban on a convict’s meetings “with lawyers and other individuals” would be activated by judges if “concrete facts exist that the convict is directing the activities of a criminal organization through the people he/she meets in prison,” according to the draft. Depending on a judge’s permission, the bar association will appoint a lawyer for the prisoner in the meantime if a necessity arises for legal counsel on a specific issue.

Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin lent support to the proposal yesterday. “The meetings between inmates and their lawyers should be about specific legal cases. If the meetings are about something else, then restrictions would be natural.”

Öcalan’s lawyers have long been under fire for allegedly acting as go-betweens to pass Öcalan’s orders and instructions on to the PKK. They have been unable to visit Öcalan since late July on the grounds that the boats that take them to the prison island of İmralı are broken.

The draft also includes provisions that would enable inmates – both convicts and those awaiting trial – to visit close relatives who are seriously ill under a security escort. Such permission would be issued under tight conditions for one day, excluding the time required to make the trip.

The proposal came after Deniz Baykal, the former main opposition leader, asked Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier this month to help secure permission for Mehmet Haberal, a CHP lawmaker awaiting trial in prison, to be temporarily released to see his ailing mother.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.