German court releases Kurdish activist jailed in Stuttgart

Kurdish activist Şemsettin Baltaş has been sentenced to two years imprisonment by the Stuttgart State Court. At the same time, the arrest warrant was lifted and the 53-year-old man was released.

Semsettin Baltaş has been released after one and a half years in prison. The 53-year-old Kurdish activist was sentenced today by the Stuttgart State Court to two years imprisonment in accordance with the Article 129 B of Germany’s constitution known as the “foreign terrorist organizations” law. At the same time, his release was ordered.

The public prosecutor's office had accused Baltaş of having been PKK representative in Heilbronn from April to June 2015 and of having been solely responsible for the area from June 2016 until his arrest on 21 June 2018. He was not accused of an individual criminal offence.

37 days of hearing have taken place since the beginning of the trial in April 2019. Last week, Semsettin Baltaş drew attention to the invasion of Northern Syria by the Turkish regime in violation of international law and pointed out the fact that about 400 Kurdish families live in Heilbronn: "These families come from cities that have been razed to the ground by Erdoğan". All are PKK sympathizers and in every second family there are PKK martyrs. My point is that all Kurds living there are as active as I am. The Kurds in Heilbronn strive to actively protect their cultural values. What I demand from the court is a just and humane judgement."

Lawyer Elke Nill had declared before the trial that her client did not meet the criteria of a PKK cadre in any way: "If the prosecution comes through, then all Kurds in Germany can no longer sleep peacefully, who get involved in public life by collecting donations and organizing legal demonstrations out of personal concern and within the framework of their political expression of will”.

The lawyer called the indictment "martial" and suspected that this trial was a "test balloon" in order to be able to indict Kurds in the future also below the function of an area leadership.