Kurd Trial Tarnishes the Reputation of Turkey

Chairwoman Hautala called on 24th of January Minister of Justice of Turkey, Mr. Sadullah Ergin to address the shortcomings of the so called KCK-trial and review the pre-trial detention policy in Turkey.  [:]



Minister of Justice, Mr. Sadullah Ergin,

I am writing to you concerning the Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan, so called KCK-trial that had its most recent hearing in Diryabakir 6th High Criminal Court on 18th of January, having began in October of 2010.

The trial concerns charges against 153 suspects, 104 of whom are being held in pre-trial detention, of affiliation to the Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan, as an organ of the Kurdistan Workers Party. However, it has come to my knowledge that amongst those accused, are members of the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), academics, human rights activists, lawyers and members of Non-Governmental Organisations.

It is most troubling and seemingly in violation of the presumption of innocence that the 104 defendants remain in pre-trial detention, and remain unaware of what exactly they are accused of and are therefore unable to defend themselves.

Indeed, in the 45th session of the Committee against Torture, on 1-19 November in Geneva, the Committee expressed concerned at the lack of consideration of alternative measures to deprivation of liberty by judicial authorities and at excessively long pre-trial detention and stressed that Turkey should take immediate measures to bring an end to the endemic problem of excessive pre-trial detention. In line with this, I urge your authorities to ensure their immediate release.

I have, furthermore, received reports over difficulties the lawyers of the defendants facing difficulties or complete refusal to access the case materials. Alarm over this information is further exacerbated over the information that the indictment apparently totals at 7,578 pages and that the prosecution on this ground is seeking sentences of around 15 years and for some, aggravated life sentences.

Concern remains also over the rights of the defendants to use Kurdish language in the proceedings.

I am moreover aware that since 14 April 2009, some 1,500 Kurdish politicians and political activists have been arrested in Turkey, including several elected mayors, members of regional assemblies, human rights activists and journalists. Against this background the reports over the flaws in the KCK-case paint a saddening picture, one I as a great admirer of your country would like to see changed without any further undue delay.

I hope to receive an explanation from you concerning issues raised above, soon.


Heidi Hautala