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Turkey gives Kurdish MP Leyla Zana 10-year sentence

Category: World

Published: 24th May 2012 14:21:06

A Turkish court has sentenced a high-profile Kurdish MP to 10 years in prison for spreading propaganda on behalf of the Kurdish People's Party (PKK) militant group.

The judge in the south-eastern town of Diyarbakir found Leyla Zana guilty of violating Turkey's anti-terror law.

As an MP she has immunity from prosecution. The sentence will not take effect until she leaves parliament.

The charges relate to nine speeches she gave between 2007 and 2008.

Mrs Zana is seen as a hero by many Kurds for her criticisms of Turkey's treatment of their community.

A previous conviction on the same charges in 2008 was overturned on appeal. Thursday's sentence is the result of a fresh trial for the same charges.

Mrs Zana is also accused of praising Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader who has been held in solitary confinement since his capture in 1999.

The PKK has been fighting the Turkish state for nearly 30 years and is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Mrs Zana, 51, became a leading campaigner for Kurdish prisoners in the 1990s. She was first elected to parliament in 1991, becoming Turkey's first woman Kurdish MP.

Back then, she caused an outcry in Turkey's parliament when she spoke Kurdish while taking the parliamentary oath.

She has already spent a decade in jail, between 1994 and 2004, for alleged links to the PKK.

Mrs Zana was elected again in June 2011, along with 35 other Kurdish-backed candidates.

Many Kurdish politicians, including Mrs Zana, have campaigned for political autonomy for Kurds in south-east Turkey.

About 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the Turkish state and PKK guerrillas, but in recent years the government has introduced some reforms to improve the rights of Kurds.

Mrs Zana has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize and was awarded the Andrei Sakharov prize for human rights in 1995.

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BBC News, 2012. Turkey gives Kurdish MP Leyla Zana 10-year sentence [Online] (Updated 24th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1430738/Turkey-gives-Kurdish-MP-Leyla-Zana-10-year-sentence [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]

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