DTP member faces 3 years for inciting hatred

March 17, 2007, Saturday/ 21:07:00
A Turkish prosecutor indicted a senior politician from a pro-Kurdish party, demanding a jail sentence of up to three years over remarks that the court said incited violence.The charges against Hilmi Aydoğdu, the provincial chairman of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, came after the media quoted him as saying late last month that Turkey's Kurds would "consider a Turkish attack on Kirkuk as an attack on Diyarbakır."

 The indictment sought up to three years in jail for Aydoğdu on charges of "openly inciting hatred" on the basis of racial differences. Aydoğdu was jailed pending trial on Feb. 23 during the course of the prosecutor's investigation. His lawyer said he expected the trial to begin next month. Turkey has issued harsh warnings over the future of the ethnically mixed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, which the Iraqi Kurds want to incorporate into their autonomous region.  

Ankara is worried that Kurdish control of Kirkuk's oil reserves will boost what it sees as Kurdish aspirations to break away from Baghdad.

Aydoğdu's remarks provoked a harsh reaction at a time when Turkey blames the Iraqi Kurds of harboring the PKK. The DTP has long been suspected of supporting the PKK. Several of its members have been prosecuted for links with the group, which is blacklisted by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

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