A group of Swedish lawmakers have filed a lawsuit against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing him of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Kurdish-dominated regions in southeastern Turkey.
On Monday, five Swedish lawmakers from the Left and Green parties signed the complaint to the Swedish International Public Prosecution Offices with regard to the conflict in Turkey's Kurdish-majority region, where Kurdish militants and Turkish security forces have been engaged in clashes since their ceasefire collapsed in 2015.
The lawsuit is the first of its kind in Sweden against a head of state and it also names several Turkish ministers, including Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
"We are five lawmakers handing in a complaint... (requesting) punishment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes," Annika Lillemets, an MP for the Left party, told a news conference in Stockholm.
A 2014 law in Sweden allows the country's courts to judge cases of alleged crimes against humanity, no matter where the crime is committed and who the perpetrator is.
The legislation says that "anyone, who in order to completely or partially destroy a national or ethnic group of people" kills, causes serious pain or injury is "guilty of genocide.”
The Swedish Public Prosecution Offices said it would decide whether to launch a preliminary investigation, noting, "It may take a while.”
According to the lawmakers, Erdogan could face an arrest warrant in Sweden if prosecutors decide to launch the probe.
Carl Schlyter, a legislator for the Greens, expressed hope that other lawmakers in European countries would take similar measures against the Turkish president.
"If (Erdogan) is hindered from roaming around in Europe and influencing European countries the way he wants, then I hope that this will affect his politics," he said.
In March, the UN Human Rights Office issued a report on allegations of "massive destruction, killings and numerous other serious human rights violations committed" between July 2015 and December 2016 in southeastern Turkey.
Turkish military forces have been conducting ground operations as well as airstrikes against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) positions in Turkey’s troubled southeastern border region and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region since 2015.
The campaign began following the July 2015 bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc, which claimed more than 30 civilian lives. Turkish officials held the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group responsible for the act of terror.
The PKK militants, who accuse the Ankara government of supporting Daesh, launched a string of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish security forces after the bomb attack, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.
Turkey has banned the PKK as a terrorist organization. The militant group has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984. The conflict has left more than 40,000 people dead.