A Turkish state security court sentenced two members of a pro-Kurdish party to a period of 45 months behind bars Wednesday for supporting Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed Kurdish rebel leader, Anatolia and AFP news agencies reported.
The pair were the two most high-level managers of an Istanbul branch of the People's Democracy Party (HADEP), which itself risks being banned for aiding Ocalan's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Necla Yildirim and Abdulvahap Oner were charged last year when police raided the HADEP office in Istanbul's Kucukcekmece district and discovered pictures of Ocalan hung in the building as well as banned publications.
The judge, for his part, said the suspects were disseminating propaganda in favor of the PKK and found them guilty of "aiding a terrorist organization," the reports said.
HADEP is charged with helping the PKK and acting under orders from the armed group, which waged a 15-year war for Kurdish self-rule in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey, with the conflict claiming an estimated 36,500 lives.
The party, which the prosecution wants outlawed, denies the charges. Intensive fighting in the southeast has significantly declined since the year 1999 when the PKK heeded a peace appeal from Ocalan and announced it was laying down its arms to seek a democratic resolution of the Kurdish matter.
Ocalan, who was sentenced to death the same year, escaped the gallows last month when the Turkish parliament abolished capital punishment in peacetime as part of democracy reforms aimed at bringing Ankara closer to the European Union (EU). In addition, the parliament legalized broadcasts and courses in the Kurdish language. (Albawaba.com)
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