Panel approves bill for mother tongue defense

Panel approves bill for mother tongue defense

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Panel approves bill for mother tongue defense

The case into the Kurdistan Communities Union, alleged urban wing of the PKK, has been deadlocked after a demand for defense in Kurdish. AA photo

A government proposal to permit legal defenses in suspects’ mother tongues was approved by Parliament’s Justice Commission late Nov. 28 and is expected to soon be adopted by Parliament’s General Assembly.

The arrangement is part of a 13-point proposed amendment to Article 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CMK) and to the Law on Execution of Penalties and Security Precautions.

Only for two phases

Under the bill, defendants will be given the opportunity to make their verbal defenses in court hearings in a language in which they say they can better express themselves. However, defendants will be able to speak in a language other that Turkish in only two phases of the trials: in their first defense after the indictment is read, and in the final phase of the defense after the deliberation is read out.

Current legislation allows defense in one’s mother tongue only if defendants cannot speak enough Turkish to express themselves. In that case, the court assigns a translator to the defendants while covering the translation fee.

The government’s proposal extending the scope of mother-tongue defense came at the insistence of defendants who are on trial as part of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case. The case into the KCK, which is the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been deadlocked as defendants’ demand to use Kurdish in their defenses was rejected on the grounds that they can speak Turkish.