Five students of the Dicle University received prison sentences of 57 years in total on the grounds of a school boycott that aimed at protesting the killing of their fellow students Mahsun Karaoğlan and Aydın Erdem who were shot by the police.
Defence lawyer Mehmet Nuri Deniz talked to bianet about the hearing before the Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court held on 6 March. Deniz said that the students were convicted of "committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organization without being a member of the organization", "spreading propaganda for an illegal organization", "obstructing education" and "harming public property".
Detained defendants Abdullah Nas, Talat Uçar, Sinan Kaplan and Cihan Bahar received prison terms of eleven years and eight months each. Defendant Mehmet Aydın, tried un-detained, was handed down a prison sentence of ten years and five months.
Lawyer Deniz emphasized that all defendants were previously acquitted by the 4th and 5th High Criminal Courts of Diyarbakır (south-eastern Turkey) and announced to appeal the latest decision.
"We just wanted relief"
Karaoğlan and Erdem, third year students at the Maths department of the Dicle University, were killed in the course of an armed intervention by the police during a protest march in Urfa in 2009. The demonstration marked the birthday of Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned leader of the outlawed armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The autopsy of Aydin Erdem revealed that he was killed by a bullet fired at close range that penetrated first his back and then his heart before it left the body through his shoulder.
The detained defendants wrote in a letter sent from prison on 12 March:
"We said they should find the perpetrators who killed our friends, find and prosecute them, prosecute and punish them so that we shall be relieved. And our request was interpreted as 'membership of an illegal organization', 'propaganda' and '[attending a] demonstration'". (NV/EÜ)
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