On 14 October, after waiting nearly 10 years, Leyla Zana was able to personally collect the 1995 European Parliament´s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. (19-NOV-04)
Leyla Zana has been awarded several international peace prizes, but has never been able to accept them in person due to her incarceration in a Turkish prison. After serving 10 years of a fifteen-year sentence, the Kurdish human rights defender and parliamentarian was released earlier this year and was able to accept the European Parliament´s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in Brussels on 14 October. She was awarded the prize in 1995.  

Zana was sentenced in 1994 along with Hatip Dicle, Orhan Dogan and Selim Sadak, all former members of Turkish parliament, for allegedly collaborating with the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK. In 2001, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that their trial had been unfair because the accused were unable to have key witnesses questioned and were not informed in time of changes to the charges against them. All were released in June 2004 and await a retrial date.

In Brussels, Zana met with her husband, Mehdi Zana, who has been living in exile in Sweden for over seven years. On 15 October, both returned to Turkey, with their daughter, Ruken. However, on arrival at Istanbul´s Ataturk Airport, Mehdi Zana was arrested and, on the following day taken to the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court where he was issued with an arrest warrant for offences dating from 1996. The arrest warrant was later withdrawn after it was decreed that the offence for which he was charged no longer constituted a crime under the newly revised Penal Code.

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