Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Istanbul - An Istanbul court Friday freed 16 suspects who are accused of ties with outlawed Kurdish rebels and had been in preventive custody for months, the state-run Anatolia agency said.
Among the 16 was Busra Ersanli, a prominent political scientist at Marmara University, against whom the prosecution has requested a sentence of 15 years in jail for belonging to a “terrorist organisation.”
In all, 205 suspects - many of whom remain at large - are on trial accused of links with the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), which the authorities say is the urban wing of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Prosecutors accuse the defendants, who include intellectuals, journalists and academics, of “aiding terrorism” and distributing “separatist propaganda,” according to Anatolia.
A total of 140 suspects in the case have been arrested and the mass trial started on July 2.
Busra Ersanli had already spent eight months in detention. Like many of the defendants, she is a member of Turkey's main Kurdish political organisation, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).
The trial is part of a wider crackdown against the outlawed Kurdish rebels and their supporters that began in 2009.
Since then, 700 people have been arrested pending trial over alleged links to the KCK, according to government figures, although critics say the true number arrested tops 3 500.
Ankara says the KCK wants to replace Turkish government institutions in the southeastern Anatolia region, which is majority Kurd, with its own political structures. - Sapa-AFP