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Death Penalty Sought for Kurdish Legislators

On August 3, 1994, the trial of eight Turkish Members of Parliament (MP) began in a special state security court in Ankara. Seven of the legislators are members of the now banned Democratic Party, one is an independent. They are charged with capital treason. Prosecutors claim that the eight MP's worked politically to further the cause of Kurdish Worker's Party (PKK), a communist party which has been waging an armed struggle since 1984 to establish an independent Kurdistan.

After months of trial the case was adjourned on December 8, 1994, to await a verdict. One of the MP's lawyers, Yusuf Alatas, stated that the prosecution had rested on its claims that the defendants were guilty of separatism and was seeking the death penalty. Alatas said the defendants decided not to produce a defense against the charges after their motions for evidence were denied. "They believe a defense will make no difference to the outcome," he said.

None of the MP's are charged with any acts of violence. The basis of the charges, according to Turkish prosecutor Talat Salk is: "Their aim is to form a Kurdish state by taking land from the government." The legislators were stripped of their parliamentary immunity in March, 1994, and their respective political parties were banned. For more information on the PKK and the struggle for an independent Kurdistan, contact: Kurdistan Report, 11 Portland Gardens, P.O. Box 1922, London, N4 1DL, England.)

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