Turkey court to retry Kurdish footballer Deniz Naki

A Turkish public prosecutor's demand of retrial followed Naki's acquittal from terrorism related charges four months ago.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - A Turkish prosecutor in the city of Diyarbakir asked a court on Friday to try the Kurdish soccer player for Turkey's Second League team Amedspor, Deniz Naki again on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

The public prosecutor's demand followed Naki's acquittal from the accusations four months ago, in November 2016, said Kurdistan24's Diyarbakir Bureau.

Naki faced five years in jail at a court in the city of Gaziantep for allegedly creating enmity in public and engaging in hate speech in his social media posts.

The prosecutor argued Naki's acquittal was against the law and an abuse of freedom of speech.

His social media comments were about a new round of conflict between Turkish government forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that began in mid-2015.

On Sep. 4, 2015, the footballer shared a post on his official Facebook page following the killing in clashes of two PKK members in the Alevi-Kurdish majority province of Dersim where Naki is from.

“A thousand greetings to the heroes of Dersim,” Naki wrote on his page.

On Jan. 4, 2016, the Amedspor player posted a photo of a man holding his deceased child referencing the military curfew in the town of Cizre.

“Think of a father whose two children have been shot and [lying] next to him lifelessly; he can’t even bury them because there is a curfew in Cizre,” the post read.

After a 2-1 victory over Bursaspor in the Turkish Cup on Jan. 31, 2016, the Amedspor striker shared a post related to another curfew in the Sur district.

“We dedicate this victory to those who have lost their lives and been injured in the 50 days of oppression we face on our lands. Long live freedom,” Naki wrote.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) banned Naki for 12 matches a year ago following his comments after the game.

Naki, aged 27, was born in Germany to parents from Dersim.

He started his career with the German team Bayer Leverkusen of the Bundesliga in 2005.

Naki formerly played for Genclerbirligi SK in Ankara until late 2014 when he was attacked on the street in the Turkish capital for expressing support for Kurdish forces then battling Islamic State (IS) group in the Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobani.

He went home to Germany after the racist attack only to return less than a year later and play for Amedspor.


Editing by Ava Homa  

(Karzan Sulaivany contributed to this report)