January 4, 2018 / 10:08 AM / 19 days ago

Turkey sentences pro-Kurdish party lawmaker to over 16 years in prison: CNN Turk

ANKARA (Reuters) - A Turkish court on Thursday sentenced a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish opposition party to 16 years and 8 months in prison, broadcaster CNN Turk and other media said, nearly one year after his arrest over terror charges.

Idris Baluken, a lawmaker for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was first jailed pending trial in a terrorism-related investigation in November 2016. He was later released in January 2017 and arrested again one month later.

Baluken and other detained HDP members, including the party’s co-leaders, are mostly accused of links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has conducted a decades-old insurgency against the Turkish state. All of the accused have denied the charges.

About 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended and roughly 50,000 people have been jailed pending trial since a 2016 failed coup. The HDP says as many as 5,000 of its members have been detained.

Rights groups and some Western allies say President Tayyip Erdogan has used the putsch as an excuse to quash dissent, but the government argues the purges are necessary to thwart the threats it is facing.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan

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