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Turkey frees two jailed Kurdish lawmakers

AFP , Friday 3 Jan 2014
PKK
File Photo: Demonstrators hold Kurdish flags and flags with portraits of the jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan during a gathering to celebrate Newroz in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir March 21, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
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A Turkish court on Friday released two Kurdish lawmakers from prison after the country's top court ruled that their long pre-trial detention violated their rights, media reported.

Ibrahim Ayhan and Gulser Yildirim of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), were detained in 2010 suspected of links to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

But a court in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern city of Diyarbakir released them pending trial after a Constitutional Court ruling on Thursday.

The court upheld their complaint that their detention violated the rights of an elected official and that the time spent behind bars was excessive, the Radikal newspaper reported.

The constitutional court also ordered 3,000 Turkish lira ($1,400, 1,000 euros) in compensation to be paid to each lawmaker, it said.

The BDP has long argued that court rulings blocking the release of jailed Kurdish MPs were politically-motivated and warned they would harm the fragile peace process between the Turkish state and the PKK.

The peace process stalled in September after Kurdish rebels announced they were suspending their retreat from Turkish soil, accusing the government of failing to deliver on promised reforms.

Kurds are demanding the release of Kurdish prisoners and political activists, the lifting of restrictions on Kurdish-language education in state schools and reducing the 10-percent election threshold required to secure seats in parliament.

The PKK, which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies, launched an insurgency seeking self-rule in the southeast in 1984 that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

Three other jailed BDP deputies have also launched a complaint with the constitutional court over their detention.

Last month, a journalist and lawmaker from the opposition Republican People's Party was freed after the court ruled his four years in custody ahead of a trial had violated his rights.

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