The flight of nine of 10 convicted terrorists who were recently released from prison pending the outcome of their appeal is driving a whirlwind debate in Turkey about flaws in the judicial system.
The 10 men, all affiliated with the radical Kurdish group Hizbullah, had received life sentences from a lower court in December 2009 for their part in the murder of 186 people in the 1990s. [The group has no connection with the Syria-backed Hezbollah party in Lebanon.] They were conditionally released in early January in accordance with a new law restricting detention times.
Under the terms of their release, the men were required to check in with a local prosecutor every day until Turkey's Court of Appeals was due to issue its decision on his case on January 26. Haci Inan, a reputed Hizbullah leader, complied. But the nine other men did not. As their lawyer hinted they might, they disappeared soon after their release, and are believed to have left Turkey. For his efforts, Inan was taken back into custody by authorities.
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Nicolas Birch specializes in Turkey, Iran and the Middle East.