PKK leader goes to high court over publishing ban

January 29, 2013, Tuesday/ 12:35:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The head of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has applied to Turkey's Constitutional Court, which now accepts petitions from individuals thanks to a constitutional amendment, on the grounds that he has been prevented from publishing a book he wrote on İmralı, the island where he is serving a life sentence.

Turkish daily newspaper Hürriyet claimed on Tuesday that Abdullah Öcalan was denied permission to publish his book, titled “Kürtlerin Manifetosu” (The Kurds' Manifesto). According to a source the newspaper spoke with, Öcalan, as a citizen of the Republic of Turkey, exercised his right to make an individual application to the Constitutional Court. Öcalan feels that the refusal to let him publish his work is unlawful and makes him a “victim.”

The newspaper also reported that the Constitutional Court was conducting a review of the application and has given Öcalan a deadline to submit some necessary documents missing in his initial application.

The Constitutional Court previously only reviewed the compatibility of laws with the Constitution, but in 2010 amendments to the Constitution that were passed in a referendum on Sept. 12 of that year revised the court's function. Previously, only deputies, political parties, top prosecutors and the president could petition the court. With the changes, the Constitutional Court now acts as a higher appeals court for individuals who do not hold a senior political office.

If the Constitutional Court decides to accept Öcalan's petition, which would mean the court has found that Öcalan is right, he will be able to publish his book. Whether or not the court will accept the petition will become clear after Öcalan submits the documents missing from his application.

The transformation of the Constitutional Court into a court of last resort was made to reduce the number of individual applications to the European Court of Human rights (ECtHR) from Turkish citizens, one of the countries with the highest number of complaints made to the ECtHR.

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