Lawyer Mehmet Bayraktar was sentenced to imprisonment of one year on charges of "spreading propaganda for an illegal organization" because he passed on greetings of Abdullah Öcalan.
Bayraktar, former Izmir Provincial Chair of the defunct Democratic Society Party (DTP), is the lawyer of Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) who has been imprisoned since 1999.
An investigation was launched about Bayraktar after he had delivered Öcalan's greetings in the course of a speech made in Kurdish at a meeting in the Karayazı district of Erzurum (eastern Anatolia) in 2009. A case was opened and eventually resulted in Bayraktar's conviction.
The lawyer was quoted as saying in his speech, "My brothers, sisters and mothers. The ones who committed themselves to the mountains [PKK] with their heart and souls, I am passing on to all Kurds the greetings of Abdullah Öcalan who struggles for your freedom".
Bayraktar was initially facing prison terms of up to five years for his utterance. As reported on Monday (1 August), the Erzurum 2nd High Criminal Court finally decided for imprisonment of one year. The court dismissed the request to suspend the sentence and the file was forwarded to the Court of Appeals.
Bayraktar claimed at the final hearing that delivering greetings was not a crime. "My speech was about the Kurdish question in this country, about peace and brotherhood. I do not accept the charges put up against me. I was the lawyer of Abdullah Öcalan. Therefore I had kind regards to pass on to the people. Besides, I think that evaluating the delivery of greetings as a crime is neither right nor lawful. Considering my speech as a whole it will be understood that I did not intend to praise crime or a criminal or to make propaganda. I request the court decide for my acquittal", the lawyer said. (ÖÖ/ŞA/VK)
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