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Page last updated at 08:39 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 09:39 UK

Turkish court adviser backs AKP

Anti-AKP protesters 2/3/08
Turkish secularists have staged huge anti-AKP rallies

An adviser to Turkey's Constitutional Court has recommended that it should not shut down the ruling AK Party for anti-secular activities, officials say.

In a non-binding report, Osman Can said the AKP's decision to lift a ban on Islamic headscarves had only been intended to expand freedoms, they add.

Turkey's chief prosecutor has accused it of seeking to replace the country's secular system with an Islamic state.

The party denies the charges. A verdict on the case is expected within a month.

According to Mr Can, the lifting of the headscarf ban was not an attempt at undermining Turkey's secular constitution.

As the lifting of the ban had already been reversed by the court, Mr Can argued that no further action was necessary, and the closure case could be dropped.

Given that some of the allegations aired in the media are mind-boggling, it is not easy to know what to believe
Roger Hardy, BBC Middle East analyst

Hasim Kilic, the court's president, confirmed that Mr Can's recommendations had been relayed to the 11-judge panel.

The report by Mr Can hands a potential lifeline to the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) , says the BBC's David Byrne in Istanbul.

The AKP, many of whose leaders including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul previously belonged to an Islamist party, won a landslide victory in last year's election.

It says the trial is ideological, not legal - launched by the traditional secular elite that failed to defeat it at the ballot box.


SEE ALSO
Turkish leaders face court case
31 Mar 08 |  Europe

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