Ankara court rules for release of pro-Kurdish lawmaker Demirtaş

An Ankara court on Monday ruled for the release of the former leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, who has been in prison since November 2016 on a string of terror related charges.

The pro-Kurdish lawmaker, however,  will continue to remain behind bars due to ongoing cases against him, left-nationalist Oda TV quoted his lawyer, Ramazan Demir, as saying.

The decision by the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court follows a call by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in November, demanding the release of 44-year-old Demirtaş, who is accused of, among other charges, spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for over three decades. 

Ankara immediately dismissed the court’s call, saying it was not legally binding for Turkey.

Following the 2015 collapse of a peace process between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the PKK, Ankara has intensified a crackdown on the HDP, which it accuses of harbouring sympathies and acting in the interests of the PKK.

Demirtaş is one of nine HDP lawmakers behind bars and faces up to 142 years in prison.

"Because I am convicted I am behind bars for now. I am wishing for the best in a fair trial,’’ Demirtaş said following Monday’s ruling.