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German court sentences 10 Turkish communists for supporting terrorist group

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The Munich Higher Regional Court sentenced 10 people to prison on Tuesday for their part in supporting a Turkish communist group that is outlawed by Ankara, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.

The court found the nine men and one woman had collected money to support the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML). They were also charged with organizing meetings and recruiting members, regional public service broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reported.

The group members acted with the knowledge that the party was planning a coup in Turkey and also carried out attacks with the intention of killing, the judge found. A total of six people, including children, were said to have died during these attacks, the AFP news agency said.

The main defendant, Müslüm E., was handed a six-and-a-half-year jail term, charged with being the ringleader of a foreign terrorist organization.

The other nine defendants received prison sentences of between two years, nine months and five years.

The terms were slightly more lenient than requested by Germany’s federal prosecutor. The office had asked for six years, nine months’ imprisonment for the main defendant E. and between three-and-a-half and five-years of imprisonment for the other defendants.

The sentencing wrapped up court proceedings that had stretched over four years, with a total of 234 days in court.

Protesters had consistently turned up to demonstrate against the trial. They see the members as freedom fighters, not terrorists. A final demonstration took place outside the courthouse on Tuesday. The defense and supporters of the group members argue that the German justice system was conducting a trial on behalf of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The TKP/ML was founded in Turkey in the 1970s and actively fights against the government, sometimes with the use of violence. In Germany the group is monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, but it is not banned.

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