ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – A Turkish court on Tuesday convicted a Kurdish politician of inciting hatred and sentenced him to 15 months in prison for suggesting that Kurds would fight Turkey if it ever attacked Kurds in Iraq.
Hilmi Aydogdu was found guilty of threatening public safety after he warned Turkey against taking any action in the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
Aydogdu, leader of a local branch of a pro-Kurdish party, made the comments last year amid suggestions that Turkey could take military action to prevent Iraqi Kurdish groups from seizing control of Kirkuk.
The court in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey, also barred Aydogdu from holding public office. Aydogdu was expected to appeal the verdict.
A land mine exploded in Turkey’s southeast on Tuesday, killing three soldiers and wounding two others near the town of Semdinli in Hakkari province, the Dogan news agency reported. The attack increased to five the number of Turkish soldiers killed in similar bomb explosions over the past two days, Dogan said.
Rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known by its Kurdish acronym, PKK, have been fighting for self-rule in Turkey’s southeast since 1984. Tens of thousands have been killed in the fighting.
In February, the Turkish military staged a ground incursion to hit rebel bases in Iraq, and it has periodically bombed and shelled suspected rebel positions across the border in past months.
The U.S. lists the PKK as a terrorist group and is sharing military intelligence about the rebels with Turkey.