Turkey seeks 30 life sentences for Syrian Kurdish leader

AFP , Wednesday 30 Nov 2016

Turkey is seeking multiple life sentences for nearly 70 suspects, including the leader of the main Syrian Kurdish political party, over a deadly bombing in Ankara this year blamed on Kurdish militants, state media said Wednesday.

Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) leader Salih Muslim and several prominent Kurdish militants have been indicted over the February 17 attack on military vehicles that killed 29 people, the official news agency Anadolu said.

Ankara said the PYD and its military wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), were responsible for the bombing.

However a radical splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) -- claimed the attack.

It said the suicide bombing was revenge for Turkish military operations in the Turkey's southeast where violence has renewed since the collapse of a ceasefire last year.

The indictment says that TAK is "a unit established to undertake sensational actions" by the PKK, Hurriyet daily reported.

Ankara prosecutors are seeking 30 aggravated life sentences for each of 68 suspects in the attack, with one life term stemming from each victim killed and one additional for acting "against the state's security", Anadolu said.

According to Anadolu, prosecutors divided the accused between the alleged organisation leaders -- including Muslim -- and suspects who "participated" in the attack.

They charged that PKK senior leaders gave instructions for the attack that was then carried out by members and some non-members.

Fugitive PKK leaders Cemil Bayik, Murat Karayilan and Fehman Huseyin were also named in the indictment, Anadolu said.

Turkey views the PYD and YPG as terrorist organisations linked to the PKK, which has waged an insurgency inside the country since 1984.

The PKK is proscribed as a terror group by the United States and the European Union.

But Washington sees the PYD and YPG as the main allies on the ground in northern Syria fighting against the Islamic State group, causing friction with its NATO ally Turkey.

The indictment comes a week after Ankara issued an arrest warrant for Muslim and the other suspects.

The PYD leader, who last visited Turkey in 2015, had rubbished the warrant and said it should not be taken seriously.

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