Retrial requested for Habur convicts
Eight PKK members and 26 refugees from Makhmour Refugee Camp located near Kandil Mountain, entered Turkey from the Habur border gate on Oct. 19, 2009.The Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals has requested the retrial of seven convicts who were among the group of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants who surrendered at the Habur border crossing in 2009 as part of government’s Kurdish opening strategy.
The prosecutor requested a retrial due to legal amendments as part of the third judicial reform package, which was adopted in July, Anatolia news agency reported on Dec. 13. Jail terms for those found guilty of “terrorist propaganda” and “committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization, without being a member of that organization” were reduced with the adoption of the third judicial package. Thus, the seven convicts, who were charged with those crimes, should be retried, according to the prosecutor.
Eight PKK members and 26 Kurdish refugees from Makhmour Refugee Camp located near Kandil Mountain, among them four children, entered Turkey from the Habur border gate on Oct. 19, 2009 under the name of the “Peace Group,” surrendering to state officials as a sign of hope for the government’s Kurdish initiative. All 34 people said they had come to Turkey upon the call of Abdullah Öcalan, the convicted leader of the PKK who is a serving life sentence in İmralı Island. They were immediately released by the prosecutor who came to the border area, before going on to Diyarbakır in a festive mood with thousands of people celebrating their return and hoping for a resolution to the decades old Kurdish conflict.
However, eight months after the Habur crossing, a Diyarbakır prosecutor launched a probe into the eight PKK members and 22 of the individuals who came from Makhmour camp on the grounds that they were members of terrorist organization and had disseminated terrorist propaganda. Ten were detained in June 2010, while seven others returned to the Makhmour camp. A PKK member Lütfü Taş was sentenced to 17 years and another PKK member Elif Uludağ was sentenced to 14 years in prison for being a member of terrorist organization. Later on, the court sentenced 17 of the original 34 to 20 months in prison for spreading terrorist propaganda in September 2011. Five of them were at the same time convicted for committing a crime on behalf of the terrorist organization, without being a member of that organization.
Recently, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin defended the Habur border crossing of 2009, claiming that the process had been sabotaged. “Warred components returned to their country, declaring that they had laid down their arms. That process was sabotaged, but the idea of Habur was not wrong,” Ergin said on Nov. 28 in Parliament.