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Higher court to hear case of former Kurdish deputy after appeals court overturns two-year sentence

(BIANET/IFEX) - The 6th High Criminal Court of Diyarbakır, a Kurdish majority city in southeastern Turkey, will retry the case of Leyla Zana, former deputy of the now defunct pro-Kurdish Democracy Party (DEP), after an appeals court reversed the judgment of a lower court. Zana had previously been sentenced to two years in prison on charges of "spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization".

The trial was reopened on 16 June after the Diyarbakır court complied with the decision of the Court of Appeals to send the file to the Public Prosecutor in order to have a new plea for the prosecution. Zana's lawyer, Meral Danış Baştaş, told BIANET that the case has now been postponed to 12 October.

On 21 March 2007, Zana delivered a speech at the Newroz celebrations - a festival welcoming the arrival of spring and marking the Iranian New Year – in which she called Jalal Talabani, president of Iraq and a leading Kurdish politician, Massoud Barzani, president of the predominantly Kurdish region of northern Iraq and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, and Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned leader of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the "three leaders of the Kurdish people".

She was initially charged with "acting on behalf of and membership in a terrorist organization", under article 7 of the Anti-Terror Law. During the first trial, charges of "praising crime and a criminal" were further brought against her over statements she made in her defense speech. She was acquitted of the latter charges.

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