Turkish court releases two Kurdish politicians
Oya ARMUTÇU - ANKARA
The Chamber of Medical Doctors in Diyarbakır presented the Peace, Friendship and Democracy award to Dicle, moments after he left the Diyarbakır D-Type Prison.A Turkish court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır has released two prominent Kurdish politicians in a trial into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The court decided on June 28 to release Hatip Dicle, a leading member of now-defunct Democracy Party (DEP), which was banned by the Constitutional Court in 1994, as well as Hüsamettin Çiçek, former deputy mayor of the Bağlar district of Diyarbakır.
The ruling stressed that two politicians had been kept in prison for over 4.5 years.
New legislation prepared by the government and accepted by Parliament in early 2014 had reduced the pre-trial detention limit from 10 to five years.
Tahir Elçi, Dicle's lawyer, told daily Hürriyet that there wasno legal obstacle keeping his client from running in the 2015 general elections. "The release, which ended an illegal situation, is pleasing, although it came after 4.5 years," Elçi said.
Dicle was elected in the 2011 election with the backing of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) at the time, but he was prevented from becoming a deputy by the Supreme Election Board (YSK), which stripped him of the status because he had been sentenced to 20 months in prison for “disseminating propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.”
There are 175 defendants in Turkey's ongoing KCK trial which targeted pro-Kurdish journalists, activists and politicians under the country's anti-terror laws. The court is expected to issue a ruling on the status of the 33 defendants, who remain arrested, on June 30.
Prosecutors accused the umbrella group of having links with the PKK, a militant separatist group regarded as a "terrorist organization" by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Last month, a Turkish court in the southeastern province of Batman released 10 other suspects who had been arrested upon links with the umbrella group.