Jail Sentence for Sayin’ ‘Mr.’

DIYARBAKIR (Reuters)–A Kurdish politician has been sentenced to six months for referring to jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan as "Mr. Ocalan", Turkish court officials said on Tuesday. A court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir found Turk guilty of referring to the rebel leader by the Turkish honorific "sayin," which translates roughly as "Mr." during a speech in January 2006. In that speech, Turk called on the government to end the solitary confinement of the rebel chief on the prison island of Imrali, off Istanbul. As a party leader, Turk has influence over public opinion, said the court in Diyarbakir, largest city of the southeast. Diyarbakir’s head prosecutor had requested a two-year jail term for Turk. It was the second conviction for Ahmet Turk, the chairman of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, within a week. Last week, Turk and Aysel Tugluk, the party’s vice chairman, were convicted of distributing pamphlets in Kurdish that allegedly praised Ocalan at an International Women’s Day event in 2006. Turkish law allows distribution of political literature only in Turkish. The court sentenced the men to one year each for that offense, and added six months each for the separate offense of "praising crime or criminality."

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