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Supreme Court overturns acquittal of Kurdish singer

(BIANET/IFEX) - 3 January 2011 - The Court of Appeals 9th Chamber has quashed the Malatya High Criminal Court's acquittal of Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunc.

Tunc responded to the 28 December 2010 ruling saying, "I believe that the previous decision for my acquittal given by the local court was appropriate and right. Therefore, I request not to follow the Court of Appeals' decision to quash the verdict but uphold instead the previous decision. I reiterate my defense as previously presented."

The artist's lawyer, Ercan Kanar, read the speech for the defense before the High Criminal Court of Malatya, southeastern Turkey. "The previous decision regarding my client, handed down by the Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court, was appropriate according to the procedures and the law," Kanar declared.

Kanar described the decision of the Court of Appeals as "contrary to the law and doctrine" of Turkey and requested that the decision of the local court be upheld.

Tunc was tried and later acquitted on charges of "spreading propaganda for the [illegal] Maoist Communist Party" (MKP) following a concert he gave at the 2nd Nazimiye Duzgun Baba Festival on 12 August 2006. The case was forwarded to the Court of Appeals 9th Chamber after the prosecutor opposed the ruling. The Supreme Court quashed the previous verdict and decided to re-try the case.

The Chief Prosecutor accused Tunc of "making propaganda for an illegal terrorist organization" by referring to the "memory of the 17" (17 people who died in a military operation against the MKP in 2004). Investigation documents describe concert goers chanting slogans of "Dersim [former name of the Tunceli province] is proud of you," which was alleged to be "an act supporting a crime".

In his statement to the Istanbul Prosecution during the investigation, Tunc said that his speech at the concert was to be seen in the context of his hopes for all people in Turkey to live in peace. "I knew most of the MKP members killed in the Mercan Valley in 2004 from my childhood. Nobody can expect me to remain indifferent and silent on this issue. I made a song about this massacre against unarmed, defenseless people, a song that condemns this incident and fully expresses humane feelings. Taking this song as the starting point, it is unacceptable to try to accuse me of assisting and accommodating an illegal organization," Tunc asserted.

During the concert, Tunc told his audience: "We have to overcome and destroy the fears imposed on us. There are armed conflicts in our country, people die (. . .) We have to take a stance against this and get rid of our fears. We want to sing songs of peace freely on our ground without fear and worries. These clashes must be brought to an end and all of us must do whatever we can. Let us together say 'No!' to war."

Tunc's speech was followed by his performance of a song called "No to war".

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