Turkish Prosecutor Rejects Ex-Premier's Bid to Avoid Jail
A Turkish prosecutor has rejected a last-ditch appeal by Turkey's former Islamist prime minister Necmettin Erbakan to avert a one-year jail sentence for sedition, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Attorney Mehmet Ener told AFP that the rejection meant 74-year-old Erbakan had now used up all domestic means available to him to avoid having to serve the prison term.
But there are other appeals pending in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
"From now on, we will wait for the results of our appeals to the European court," Ener added.
Erbakan was sentenced to a year in prison for inciting racial and religious hatred in pro-Islamist and pro-Kurdish remarks during a 1994 election campaign. The appeal court upheld the sentence in June.
His sentence was put on hold on September 13 for four months under a penal code provision which allows convicted people to seek suspension.
If the veteran politician fails to evade jail, he will serve some five months under the penal code, but will be barred from politics for life. He could begin serving his sentence in January 2001.
The Strasbourg-based court in August rejected an appeal by Erbakan's lawyers to suspend his jail sentence. But three other appeals lodged by Erbakan against Turkey are still before the court.
The first was lodged in May 1998 against the dissolution of Erbakan's party. The second, in July 1998, challenged a ruling depriving Erbakan of his right to stand in an election.
Later that same month, a new appeal was filed claiming Erbakan had been given an unfair trial and denied his right to freedom of expression.
Erbakan became Turkey's first Islamist prime minister when his Welfare party forged a coalition with a center-right party in 1996.
But he resigned a year later after a stormy year in power marked by an anti-Islamist campaign led by Turkey's powerful army, which considers guarding the secular nature of the state as one of its priorities.
In early 1998, the constitutional court banned Welfare for being a "focal point" of anti-secular activities and banned Erbakan from political activities for five years -- ANKARA (AFP)
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