Turkey's appeals court on Monday confirmed jail sentences given to four former leaders of the pro-Kurdish Democratic People's Party (DEHAP) on charges of electoral fraud.

The court said the four tampered with documents relating to the party's overall national representation so they could stand in the 3 November elections. The defendants were sentenced  by a lower court in June to 23 months in prison.

As a result, the almost two million votes DEHAP won may now be cancelled, which observers say would cause a big reshuffle of parliamentary seats.

Outcomes

Both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) could lose seats, according to electoral rules.

"Three things could happen now," said Yusuf Kanli, managing editor of the Turkish Daily News. "A higher court may not accept the verdict, and there will be no change.

"Or the DEHAP may lose its deputies, with the AKP and the Republicans also losing many seats and the True Path Party gaining up to 67 seats," he told Aljazeera.net. "Or there will be new elections."

Kanli said new elections would probably see the AKP retain power but the True Path Party would have most to gain and would probably bolster its position as a major opposition force.