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Kurdish politician Mahmut Alinak on trial for "insult" following his criticism of PM

(BIANET/IFEX) - Mahmut Alinak, former Kars province (eastern Turkey) party chair of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), is on trial and facing a possible prison sentence, for a letter he sent Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Kurdish and in which he said, "You have deceived the people of Kars."

Alinak has previously been convicted of insulting the Prime Minister and was sentenced to 11 months and 20 days' imprisonment. Under Article231 of the Code of Criminal Procedure the punishment was converted into having to plant 500 trees and look after them for four months. The sentence was handed down on 3 March 2009. Alinak had said, "If he had the least bit of shame, he would not have come to Kars. We don't want Erdogan, the enemy of freedom who has turned the lives of the Turkish and Kurdish people into hell, in Kars. We protest against the pollution of Kars' air and soil by this Padisah of bloody politics."

On 7 April, Alinak was again in court, this time for the letter he sent. He said in his defence, "In my letter I wrote that the Prime Minister and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) had deceived the people and that Kars was considered a colony. I don't understand what in those statements represents an insult. You cannot even call it criticism. This means that we have to seal our mouths and walk along the streets like that. What kind of freedom of expression is this, if even using the word 'deceive' is a crime. It seems like the only place where we can be free in this country is in prison." The court case is to continue on 23 July.

Alinak went to prison twice last year because he refused to pay fines after being accused of "praising crime" in several speeches he had made calling for civil disobedience.

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