The trial has been grid-locked many times over the suspects’ demand to give their defense in Kurdish despite the court’s consistent refusal.

The 21st hearing of the case started with suspect Songül Erol Abdil, the former mayor of Tunceli province, offering his defense in Zaza, which the court refused to hear, stating the statement was in “a language believed to be Kurdish.”

Abdil corrected the court, saying that the language was Zaza and offered the defense in writing. The court refused it once more, saying, “The suspect knows Turkish.” Defense lawyers said the action was illegal and that written statements must be translated and put into the case file.

After the same thing occurred with another suspect, the defense demanded that the statements be included in the case file in both Kurdish and Turkish, that the court make a decision of lack of jurisdiction and transfer the trial to the Constitutional Court and that all the arrested suspects be present at hearings.

The court tried to end the hearing after a recess without addressing the demands, leading about 100 defense lawyers to withdraw from the case, stating they cannot do their jobs.

The case against the KCK, the alleged urban branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, comprises 152 suspects, including 12 mayors of several Southeast Anatolia cities, all elected from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, as well as many other local politicians. Hundreds more are under arrest in connection with the investigation. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. (Daily News with wires, April 19, 2011)