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Court sentences mayor to one year in prison for "Kurdistan" reference

(BIANET/IFEX) - 28 April 2010 – On 26 April, the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court sentenced Selim Sadak, mayor of the city of Siirt in south-eastern Turkey, to one year's imprisonment on charges of "spreading propaganda for the PKK", the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party. The charges stemmed from comments Sadak made to a journalist where he used the word "Kurdistan".

In the hearing, the court justified the decision by claiming that Sadak's comments were "tantamount to statements about a 'common Kurdish homeland'" and accused him of "using arguments of an illegal organization towards the organization's aims".

Sadak, who was free pending trial, did not attend the hearing; he was represented by his lawyer Şakir Demir. In his defence speech, Demir stated that his client's remarks should be evaluated within the context of freedom of expression concerning a politician's view on current developments. Demir further claimed that Sadak's statement did not include any content that would constitute a crime. According to the lawyer, Sadak referred to "Kurdistan" merely as a geographical region and historical fact. Demir said Sadak only meant that a place called "Kurdistan" exists.

The court was not convinced and sentenced the mayor to imprisonment of one year under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Act (TMY).

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