Prosecutor seeks jail time for intellectuals in Turkey

Prosecutor seeks jail time for intellectuals in Turkey

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Prosecutor seeks jail time for intellectuals in Turkey

This file photo shows demonstrators protesting the arrests of publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and Prof Büşra Ersanlı. Zarakolu and Ersanlı were arrested on Nov. 1, 2011. AA photo

An Istanbul chief prosecutor has demanded prison term up to 22.5 years against 193 suspects in the ongoing Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trials, including a prominent publisher and a professor.

Specially authorized Istanbul chief prosecutor Adnan Çimen sent a 2,400-page indictment to the court yesterday, charging Professor Büşra Ersanlı with “leading a terrorist organization” and publisher Ragıp Zarakolu with “aiding a terrorist organization.” Çimen demanded 15 to 22.5 years for Ersanlı and 7.5 to 15 years for Zarakolu, Doğan news agency reported.

More than 140 of the 193 suspects in the indictment are currently behind bars. Zarakolu and Ersanlı were arrested on Nov. 1, 2011, resulting in protests from national and international organizations. Zarakolu was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last month by a group of Swedish lawmakers.

The indictment discusses the establishment and structure of the KCK, the alleged urban wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while also describing some of the acts undertaken on the PKK’s behalf. 
Istanbul’s 15th Court of Serious Crimes has two weeks to decide whether to accept or reject the indictment.

Among the suspects charged was independent lawmaker Aysel Tuğluk, according to reports, but the charges against her were not clear as the Hürriyet Daily News went to print yesterday.

The indictment also includes sections about the “Politics Academy,” which is regarded as the PKK’s urban center for ideological training, according to the reports. 

Those who attend the academy eventually either join the PKK’s field cadres and receive military training or participate in the organization’s urban activities, said the indictment. 

The bill also includes the testimonies of five secret witnesses in connection with the arrests of Zarakolu and Ersanlı, who formerly lectured at the Politics Academy. 

Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals declared the KCK an armed terrorist group last month after it upheld the ruling of a court in the eastern province of Van sentencing a member of the organization to nearly eight years in prison.

The KCK’s charter clearly spells out its ideological, moral, philosophical and organizational links with the PKK, which it aims to transform into a state-like structure, said the appeals court’s decision.

Since 2009, around 700 people have been arrested over their alleged links to the KCK, according to government figures, although the BDP puts the figure at more than 3,500. Five BDP parliamentarians are also under arrest on similar charges.

The trials against the KCK started last year with 150 defendants, including 12 mayors of Southeast Anatolian cities such as influential Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir, as well as many local politicians who support Kurdish rights. Some 100 defendants have been under arrest for more than two years.

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