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Torture and Detentions Mar Turkish Trial

ONE of the last mass trials begun during Turkey's three years of military rule (1980-83) ended this week. The 7-year ``Dev-Yol'' case attracted widespread attention for the admissibility of evidence gathered under torture, the use of a military court despite the 1983 shift to civilian rule, and the years many defendants spent in prison while the trial was under way.

Among the sentences handed down Wednesday were seven death sentences and 39 life terms. The trial involved 723 civilian members of the Devrimoi-Yol (Revolutionary Path) who were charged with belonging to leftist organization intent on violently overthrowing the state. (Their membership was legal at the time.)

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All the defendants say they confessed after up to 90 days of continual torture during incommunicado detention. Many have medical reports substantiating their claims. The judges refused defense lawyers' petitions to dismiss confessions taken under torture.

Lawyers say they will appeal the verdicts and petition the European Commission on Human Rights. Turkey ratified the ECHR convention in January. But human rights groups say torture is widely practiced against political detainees, and courts routinely accept statements made under torture.

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