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Government tries to block pro-Kurdish television channel; 56 mayors face prosecution for opposing these efforts

(BIANET/IFEX) - Fifty-six mayors, most of them members of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), are being prosecuted for sending a joint letter to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, urging that he reject Turkey's efforts to close down pro-Kurdish satellite television channel Roj TV. They face possible punishments of up to 15 years' imprisonment.

Fifty-four of the defendants are members to the DTP, while two are members of the Social Democratic People's Party (SHP). They are accused of "voluntarily aiding and assisting a terrorist organization" with reference to articles 314/3 and 220/7 of the Turkish Penal Code.

If convicted, they face from 7.5 to 15 years in prison. The public prosecutor has urged for the acquittal of three among them.

During the hearing, defense lawyers demanded further time for preparation. The court accepted the demand and delayed the trial to 8 May 2007 for the last statements.

The Office of the Public Prosecutor of Diyarbakir launched an investigation into the channel on 2 January 2006. It concluded that Roj TV broadcasts propaganda about the illegal Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK).

Turkey has been long trying to interrupt Roj TV's broadcasts by pressuring European states in which the station bases its studios and transmitters.

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