Friday, November 5, 2010

Turkish court refuses to hear expert on defense in Kurdish

Hurriyet Daily News


A Diyarbakir court rejected Wednesday demands from lawyers representing alleged members of a suspected urban terrorist group that it hear an expert defend the suspects’ right to express themselves in Kurdish at the court, Dogan news agency reported.

Professor Baskin Oran, in an expert opinion submitted to court, said rights stemming from the Lausanne Treaty stipulated that suspects may defend themselves in court in their mother tongues. Defense lawyers asked the court to hear Oran, who was present in the court room, but the court rejected the request.

The court also denied a defendant’s attempt to speak in Kurdish at the hearing by turning off his microphone and calling a recess to the trial.

The trial of alleged members of the suspected urban wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the Kurdistan Communities Union, or KCK, began last month when more than 150 defendants, including mayors of southeastern Anatolian cities elected from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, were brought to the Diyarbakir court.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The court rejected the request to hear Oran as an expert, saying it did not need to hear the testimony of an expert on an issue they can solve on their own. In previous hearings, the court rejected the demands of defendants to be allowed to speak in Kurdish during courtroom identification procedures.

Oran is an academic in International Relations at Ankara University and regularly writes for Radikal Iki, a weekly supplement of daily Radikal.