Page last updated at 19:03 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Turkey finds 39 leftists guilty after 28-year trial

By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Istanbul


A trial in Turkey, which has lasted nearly 28 years, has finally concluded.

A panel of judges found 39 of the 1,223 defendants guilty of trying to topple the government and constitution, and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

The charges against other defendants were dropped because of the time that had elapsed.

They were all alleged members of an extreme left-wing organisation, Dev-Sol, who were arrested in the wake of the country's 1980 military coup.

It will be of small comfort to the defendants - 13 of them have already died - but their trial has probably broken all records.

Proceedings in court started on 15 March 1982.

The defendants - all alleged members of Dev-Sol - were charged with offences ranging from putting up illegal posters to armed rebellion.

Twenty-seven years and nine months later, the judges have finally reached a verdict - 39 of the defendants were given life sentences, although they will not actually serve any time, because they have already spent so long in jail.

In the court in Istanbul were 22 of the defendants, together with children and grandchildren, most of whom were not born when the case began.

The initial trial lasted 10 years - the case then went to the appeal court and sat there for 13 years because 100 folders of evidence had gone missing.

The European Union has long been pressing Turkey to make improvements to its judicial system, as part of the country's bid for EU membership.

If the EU needed a case to support its argument, it looks like it now has one.

Print Sponsor

Turkish court bans pro-Kurd party
11 Dec 09 |  Europe
PKK 'surrender' tests Turkey plan
19 Oct 09 |  Europe
EU enlargement: The next eight
24 Jun 10 |  Europe
EU 'breaking promise' to Turkey
07 Sep 09 |  Europe
Profile: Turkey's Marxist DHKP-C
01 Apr 04 |  Europe
Turkey timeline
22 Mar 12 |  Country profiles
Turkey country profile
22 Mar 12 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific