RSS is a terrorist organization

Terrorist organization abroad: Munich Higher Regional Court condemns Turkish communists

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Oppositionists or members of a terrorist group? In Turkey the communist TKP / ML fights against the state, in Germany it is not banned. A difficult process has come to an end after a good four years in Munich.

In front of the court, demonstrators wave red flags with the phrase "Partizan". "Freedom for all political prisoners," they loudly demand. "Revolution is not a crime." The Munich Higher Regional Court, on the other hand, sees the accused Turkish communists as members of a foreign terrorist group and sentenced them to sometimes long prison sentences.

After more than four years of trial, the judges concluded on Tuesday that the nine men and one woman of Turkish and Kurdish descent raised money, organized events and recruited members for the Turkish Communist Party / Marxist-Leninists (TKP / ML). The presiding judge Manfred Dauster said the money was also used to support the group's armed arm in Turkey in order to enable the guerrilla struggle to continue there.

The court therefore imposed six and a half years in prison on the main defendant for being a ringleader in a terrorist organization abroad. It remained just below the demand of the Federal Prosecutor of six years and nine months. The 60-year-old, who has been in custody for about five years, coordinated the group's activities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, England, Holland and Belgium. The remaining defendants, who were most recently at large, were given between two years and nine months and five years for membership in a terrorist group abroad.

Lawyers announce legal remedies

All lawyers announced appeals. They had demanded acquittals or the termination of the proceedings. The TKP / ML, which was founded in the 1970s and split up into groups, leads a partly militant fight against the Turkish state. In Germany, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is watching them, but it is not prohibited.

"TKP / ML is not banned in Germany and is not on any terrorist list," said the lawyer for the main defendant, Antonia von der Behrens. "Only Turkey has so far classified it as terrorist and has been fighting its members like the entire opposition using methods that violate human rights." The procedure can only be described as "commissioned work for Turkey".

Another defendant's lawyer, Alexander Hoffmann, also announced that he would attack the verdict. The Federal Ministry of Justice's authorization to prosecute necessary for such proceedings should not have been granted. The Turkish state is not a protected property within the meaning of ยง 129b StGB, which makes membership in a foreign terrorist organization a criminal offense. The evidence that the TKP / ML was such came from files of the Turkish police - and they also forged documents.

Critics had complained several times that the German judiciary was making itself the servant of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Solidarity", the supporters chanted outside, and supporters in the court applauded the accused; one of them raised his fist in the air on the way to the dock.

End after around 270 days of litigation

According to the court, the TKP / ML used explosives and firearms in Turkey in order to forcibly dismantle the social order there and replace it with a dictatorship of the proletariat. There were "intentional killing attacks on representatives and so-called collaborators" of the Turkish state, said Dauster. Armed units planted bombs, carried out attacks, took hostages and took action against traders who supplied the military or police with material: weapons - or even bread.

At least six people died in attacks from 2004 to 2015, said Dauster. Two people were deliberately killed. In addition, four six to twelve year old children died when an explosive device went off in a garage they were playing in - the attack was aimed at a local elected official.

The judge admitted that the defendants were not involved in the attacks. But they would have promoted the association and knew about the terrorist orientation. Dauster emphasized that evidence from Turkey played almost no role. French investigators had secured evidence that there was evidence from undercover surveillance. The files filled thousands of pages.

There have been around 270 process days since June 2016. Not least, the translation had cost a lot of time - and money. Interpreters and defense counsel alone each cost around five million euros.

dpa / acr / LTO editorial team