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Cablegate: Former Pkk Leader in Germany Sentenced to Prison Term

VZCZCXRO3524
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHDF #0027 2151621
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031621Z AUG 09
FM AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0220
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0009
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHDF/AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF 0236

UNCLAS DUSSELDORF 000027

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR, S/CT, INR, INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER KISL PGOV KCRM TU GM
SUBJECT: FORMER PKK LEADER IN GERMANY SENTENCED TO PRISON TERM

REF: DUSSELDORF 0017

1. (U) Former Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) leader for
Germany, Hueseyin Acar (aka Hueseyin Colak), was sentenced on
July 31 to three years and nine months in prison on charges of
leadership of a criminal organization and coercion by the Higher
Regional Court in Duesseldorf. The coercion charges referred to
threatening the life of a young Kurdish woman if she did not
terminate a pregnancy from a relationship with a PKK functionary
in Germany. The penalty corresponded to what the defense had
requested, while the prosecution had asked for only three months
longer. The maximum sentence for both charges is five years in
prison.

2. (U) The trial against Acar (48), who had been in
pre-trial detention since his arrest in July 2008, opened on
April 27, 2009 (reftel). During the 13 days of court hearings,
it was established (mostly through evidence gained through
electronic surveillance of Acar's cell phones ) that he was in
charge of the PKK's district organization in Southern Germany in
spring 2007, and later on was the PKK's leader for Germany as a
whole from June 2007 to April 2008. In a two-and-a-half-hour
statement after the pronouncement of the judgment, presiding
judge Lutz Braunhoehler gave the reasons for the court's
decision, praising the factual, non-confrontational atmosphere
during the trial that made it possible to conclude it earlier
than scheduled. He pointed out that the PKK is a banned
criminal organization in Germany (since 1993), systematically
engaged in committing crimes, such as organizing illegal entries
into Germany, forging of documents, tax evasion, coercion,
bodily injury and deprivation of liberty in connection with
collecting funds and forced donations.

3. (U) The court saw more mitigating than aggravating
circumstances in arriving at what Braunhoehler called a
"sufficient, but necessary sentence." The only aggravating
factor was the coercion of the Kurdish woman to terminate her
pregnancy. (She is still in a witness protection program to
protect her from PKK threats.) Among the mitigating
circumstances Braunhoehler cited the fact that Acar had already
spent more than 20 years in prison in Turkey, where he was
sentenced to death for membership in the PKK in 1981 (later
commuted to 40 years in prison) and most likely tortured and
consequently traumatized. In addition, Acar's partial
confession helped accelerate the trial, and when he was arrested
he was no longer in a PKK leadership function, Braunhoehler
said.

4. (SBU) Acar has the right to appeal the sentence within
one week before the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, but a
well informed source at the Duesseldorf court told us that this
would be highly unlikely, not only because the defense got what
it requested, but especially because of the current PKK tactic
of avoiding anything that would draw the public's attention in
Germany to the criminal nature of the PKK.

5. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

GROSSMAN

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