Page last updated at 23:59 GMT, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

France convicts PKK-linked Kurds

Protest in Strasbourg against imprisonment of Abdullah Ocalan (2000)
The men belonged to the Apoist Youth, named after the PKK's Abdullah Ocalan

A court in Paris has convicted 11 men linked to the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), for attacks on two cafes and a cultural organisation in France.

The men were sentenced to between three months and five years in prison after being found guilty of "criminal conspiracy for terrorist purposes".

Prosecutors said it was the first time in France people linked to the PKK had been convicted of terrorist offences.

The PKK has fought for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey since 1984.

It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and the US.

Turkey has launched a series of cross-border attacks during the past year on PKK members based in northern Iraq, from where it says they have been launching raids on Turkish territory.

The court case in France centred on three petrol-bomb attacks on two Turkish-run cafes and a Turkish cultural association in and around the south-western French city of Bordeaux in 2007.

Prosecutors said most of the convicted men belonged a group called the "Apoist Youth" - believed to be named after the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, whose nickname is "Apo".

Prosecutor Patrick Laberche told the court that in his view, they all had "a thorough knowledge of the ideological ramifications" of their actions and were "aware of acting in line with the aims of the PKK".

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