Spain: No sign of release for Kurd who
threw shoe at Turkish premier
By Reyes Rincon, Spanish daily El Pais
Leader was visiting Spain when
Hokman Joma lobbed footwear at him in protest
A Syrian man of
Kurdish origin has been sentenced to 3 years in
Spain for throwing shoe at Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Photo:
JULIAN ROJAS 2010.
See Related Articles
March 18, 2012
MADRID, — In Spain, throwing a
shoe at a
visiting Turkish prime minister is apparently a far
more serious offense than doing the same to a US
president in Iraq. In 2010, Syrian Kurd Hokman Joma
was sentenced by a Spanish court to three years in
prison after he did just that during a visit to
Seville by Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Two years later, Joma is still behind bars, and is
unlikely to be released early.
Shouting “Free Kurdistan,” the 28-year-old failed to
hit Erdogan when the Turkish leader got into a car
during a visit to the southern city. He was
immediately tackled by security guards and arrested.
Joma said during his trial that he never intended to
hurt the Turkish prime minister but just wanted to
“draw attention” to the situation of the Kurdish
people in Turkey. Throwing one’s shoe at somebody is
considered a grave insult in much of the Middle
East, rather than an attempt at assault.
Joma’s lawyer, Luis Ocaña, says that Joma acted
“He hadn’t intended to do anything, he wasn’t
prepared at all,” he explains. “He didn’t have a
spare pair of shoes with him.”
Ocaña says that Joma explained his actions to him in
a letter last year.
“I couldn’t allow myself to be in the same place as
that man and to say nothing, to let him just go on
his way as though everything was fine. He came to
collect a prize, although I don’t understand why
they would give him one,” Joma wrote in his letter.
“The Turkish government has launched five wars
against my people, it has killed thousands of women
and children. The only thing that I wanted to do was
to draw attention to the question, so that people
would know that the Kurdish people still do not have
their own homeland.”
During two appeals, the courts have ruled that the
three-year sentence is disproportionate, but say
that the law leaves them no alternative.
“The necessary application of the law obliges the
imposition of said penalty. It is true that the
effective compliance with said penalty, in the
absence of any previous wrongdoing by the defendant,www.ekurd.net
could be said to be excessive, bearing in mind the
damage done and the personal circumstances of the
prisoner, and could justify moves toward some kind
of total or partial pardon, but it is the minimum
sentence that I can impose for what he did,” ruled
Judge José Antonio Gómez.
Joma was charged with a crime against the
international community in the form of an attack
“I know that it was the Turkish Prime Minister, and
that isn’t the same as throwing a shoe at me, for
example,” says Ocaña. “But the problem is that the
law was applied as though he had thrown a brick or a
knife, something that could do real damage.”
Ocaña draws parallels with the case of Iraqi
journalist Muntazer al Zaidi, who in December 2008
threw his shoes at then-US president George W. Bush
during his final visit to Iraq, shouting: “This is
the farewell kiss, you dog.”
The 30-year-old was subsequently sentenced to three
years, and served nine months in jail.
Joma’s lawyer presented an appeal for a pardon in
December, but says his client will likely have
served his sentence before it is heard.
Efforts to bring international attention to Joma’s
case seem to have prompted a tough response from the
Spanish authorities. Ahmed Ibrahim, a fellow Syrian
Kurd living in Seville, and a friend of Joma, says
the prison is refusing to allow Joma any visits
following interviews he gave with a number of
Spanish newspapers, among them EL PAÍS.
Ibrahim says his family cannot afford to visit Joma.
“Anyway, even before the current troubles, the
Syrian authorities would never have given them a
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority, although under prodding from
the European Union it has allowed some cultural
rights. Ibrahim and Ocaña say that Joma was
initially suspected of belonging to the Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK), which, since 1984, has been
fighting to establish a Kurdish state in the
southeast of Turkey, sparking a conflict that has
claimed some 45,000 lives.
Ocaña says this is probably why anti-terrorism
legislation was applied in Joma’s case. What’s more,
the Syrian authorities interrogated Joma’s family,
while the Spanish police were prevented from
carrying out a search of Joma’s apartment by a
“I was interrogated by the police because I had been
seen with Joma a few minutes before he threw the
shoe,” he says. “They thought I had told him to do
During the trial, Joma, who was in Spain without a
visa, asked not to be extradited to Syria. “That was
our main concern. He was worried that he would be
tortured to death if he was sent back,” says Ocaña.
“He was absolutely clear that he didn’t want to go
back, and that if he was deported, he would have
Ibrahim says that with the pace of change in Syria,
perhaps by the time Joma comes out, he will be able
to return home. “If there is democracy, he would
certainly give it serious thought,” he says. “But
the regime there won’t go until it has used up the
last bullet — and it has a lot of bullets.”
Copyright ©, respective
author or news agency,
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the
content of news information on this page