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High Court blocks extradition appeal of assumed PKK supporter to Turkey over fair trial fears

AN ALLEGED supporter of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who is wanted in Turkey for a double murder cannot be extradited because he would not receive a fair trial, the High Court ruled today.

Ozgur Tanis is sought by the Turkish authorities for allegedly robbing people at gunpoint on a motorway in October 1997 and strangling two men with a rope in April 1999, when he is said to have been an “active member” of the PKK.

The 45-year-old, who lives in south London, says he has been falsely implicated. He said that he first came to Britain in late 1998 after he was tortured by anti-terror police in Turkey for participating in “separatist activities.”

Turkey requested his extradition in May 2019, but Mr Tanis’s lawyers argued that his Kurdish ethnicity and alleged support for the PKK, a proscribed organisation, mean that he could not have a fair trial.

Professor Bill Bowring, an expert on human rights in Turkey, gave evidence that thousands of lawyers and judges in the country have been dismissed or arrested since a failed coup in 2016.

He concluded that the prospect of Mr Tanis having a fair trial if he is extradited to Turkey is “very remote.”

Turkey was appealing the decision of a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, who ruled last October that Mr Tanis should not be extradited to Turkey as he might be prejudiced at his trial because of his apparent links to the PKK.

District Judge John Zani also ruled that the risk of Mr Tanis being held in long-term solitary confinement would amount to inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of his human rights.

After the appeal was defeated today, Mr Tanis’s solicitor Ali Has said that there could be no fair trial in Turkey for anyone accused of being a PKK supporter.

“The judgment of the High Court as handed down this morning is therefore another message to Turkey on its track record of the lack of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said.

“We sincerely hope that judgments such as this will help improve human rights for all and strengthen the mechanisms protecting individuals against government abuse of power and the systematic targeting of individuals based on their political beliefs, political activism, and ethnic or religious backgrounds.”

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