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Appeals court upholds sentence against mayors

(BIANET/IFEX) - 13 September 2010 - The Court of Appeals 9th Criminal Chamber recently upheld the sentences against more than fifty mayors of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP). The mayors had been convicted for advocating against the closure of the Kurdish Roj TV channel, which broadcast from Denmark. The DTP was closed by the Constitutional Court in December 2009. The mayors had sent a joint letter to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, then Prime Minister of Denmark, requesting that the satellite channel not be shut down.

The mayors were convicted of "praising crime and a criminal" and each sentenced to three months in prison by the Diyarbakir 5th High Criminal Court on 15 April 2008.

The court punished the defendants under article 215 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) (praising crime and a criminal) and mitigated the sentences to two months and 15 days. The penalties were converted into a monetary fine of 875 YTL (approx. US$575) each. Three mayors were acquitted, among them one DTP member and two members of the Social Democratic Populist Party (SHP).

No other case had been opened against Roj TV at the time. Furthermore, the Denmark Media Secretary had sent a report to the Diyarbakir Court, saying, "We have no evidence that the channel violated the Danish publication laws". However, the court ruled in favour of the mayors' convictions. This decision has now been upheld by the Court of Appeals.

The Danish Public Prosecutor, Jörgen Steen Sörensen, has filed a criminal complaint against Roj TV and the Mesopotamian Broadcast Company, both operating from Denmark, for "supporting activities of the PKK", the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the EU, the UN, the USA and other states and international organizations.

After six years of investigation, the prosecution demanded the closure of the channel according to article 114 of the Danish Criminal Law, which stipulates that "a person, a group or an organization shall be punished for activities that provide support for terrorist actions".

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