Monday, 14 September 2020

Czechs sent to prison in Turkey for cooperation with terrorists

ČTK |
3 August 2017

Prague/Ankara, Aug 2 (CTK) - A Turkish court sentenced two Czechs to six years and three months in prison for cooperation with the People's Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militia, which Ankara considers a terrorist organisation, today, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronova has told CTK.

The verdict is not valid as their defence counsel will appeal it, a Czech Television (CT) reporter in Ankara said.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek will contact his Turkish counterpart soon because of the case.

Both Czechs stay in the prison in Van where they have been in custody.

Czechs Marketa Vselichova and Miroslav Farkas were detained at the Turkish border and accused of involvement in a terrorist organisation last November. According to the indictment, they repeatedly visited the camps of "terrorists" in Turkey.

The Czechs claim they are humanitarian activists who were heading for Iraq to establish a field hospital there.

"Today's verdict is a big disappointment to me. Regardless of this, we must do our utmost now for the matter to be examined properly by the appeals court. I firmly believe that a higher-level court will assess the case differently," Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said, commenting on the verdict.

He said he would like to discuss further steps in the process with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Zaoralek will ask him for "correct appeals proceedings if the defendants decided to appeal," the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

Czech diplomacy will keep providing consular aid to the defendants and mediate contacts with Turkish authorities and their families.

For a possible extradition of the two Czechs by Turkey, Prague would have to accept the verdict saying that they assisted in terrorist activities, Czech Television (CT) said later today.

According to Zaoralek, however, it is difficult to recognise the Turkish verdict because it goes counter to the Czech constitution.

"In our country, it is hard to imprison someone for something that is not considered a crime here," Zaoralek told CT.

Unlike Turkey, the Czech Republic does not consider the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia a terrorist organisation, Zaoralek said.

He said the situation has changed since last December, when he negotiated about the detained Czechs with Cavusoglu.

"We have some indications that the prosecutor gained pieces of evidence that are not favourable to the two Czechs," Zaoralek told Nova TV, without elaborating.

"Furthermore, a role was played by the Czech Chamber of Deputies' resolution concerning the Armenian genocide. This is an issue to which the Turkish side is sensitive," Zaoralek said.

In its April resolution, the Czech lower house condemned the Armenian genocide in the former Ottoman Empire.

Turkey, the empire's successor, refuses to label the events of 1915 as genocide.

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