31/12/2008 | Writer: KAOS GL

www.telegraph.co.uk - December 31, 2008 - A transsexual Turkish pop star has won a free speech case against the country’s powerful army, which accused her of turning public opinion against military service.

Bulent Ersoy, 56, had said that if she had a son she would discourage him from going to fight Kurdish separatists in the country's restive southeast.

The army, one of Turkey's most influential institutions, took offence and she was put on trial in February under legal provisions that criminalise remarks deemed insulting to the state and its institutions.

In the past, these provisions have been used to silence critics of Turkey's policy in Kurdish areas and its denial of a genocide against Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman Empire during the first world war.

They have also been used to prevent criticism of Ataturk, who founded modern Turkey by leading an army against Western powers who wanted to divide Anatolia between their allies.

Ms Ersoy, who was not present at the court hearing, was acquitted on the grounds that she was entitled to free speech.

If convicted, she faced a possible prison sentence of up to 30 months.

The singer, who was also celebrated for a string of film roles, rose to fame before her sex-change operation in 1981.

Turkey has long been embroiled in a bitter war in its southeast against the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).

More than 40,000 people have been killed in the fighting and thousands of Kurdish villages have been razed to the ground.

Original Link of this News Article: Turkish transsexual star acquitted of insulting army

Tags: human rights, military