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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 July 2007, 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK
Row erupts over jailed Turkey MP
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Turkey

Sebahat Tuncel after being freed from a jail in Gebze near Istanbul
Sebahat Tuncel's political future is in doubt
An argument is brewing in Turkey over a pro-Kurdish member of the country's new parliament who stood in the recent elections from prison.

Sebahat Tuncel was on trial for membership of an illegal armed organisation linked to the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

She was granted immunity when she won a seat in parliament and released from custody earlier this week.

But senior lawmakers now claim she has no right to sit in parliament.

Sebahat Tuncel was taken into custody last November, accused of belonging to a militant group linked to the PKK.

A high-profile Kurdish activist, she stood for election from prison and won - with 90,000 votes.

So on Tuesday she was granted immunity from prosecution, released and greeted by hundreds of supporters.

But now her political future, and her freedom, are in doubt.

Scandal claim

An influential senior lawyer has called her release a serious legal error.

He claims anyone accused of a crime against the unity of the state cannot be eligible for immunity.

An amended ruling from the court appears to agree, leaving the door open for the trial to continue.

A lawyer for the prisoner-turned-politician calls that interpretation political, and a scandal.

But it is perhaps a taste of what is to come when almost two dozen pro-Kurdish politicians take their seats in the new Turkish parliament on Tuesday.

After more than two decades of conflict, they call that an opportunity to press for peace.

But with clashes between the PKK and Turkish troops claiming lives almost every day, nationalist feeling is running high.


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