Former HDP leader Demirtaş remains in prison despite new release order

A Turkish court on Thursday ruled for the release of the jailed former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş, but a separate case against him will keep him imprisoned, secular opposition daily Cumhuriyet reported.

Demirtaş was arrested in November 2016 and has been held since then on various charges related to his alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has fought the Turkish state for Kurdish self-rule for decades.

An Ankara court on Sept. 2 ruled the conditional release of the top pro-Kurdish politician over charges of insulting the president, as the trial continues in the main case against him, in which prosecutors are seeking a sentence of up to 142 years. 

Istanbul 26th Heavy Penal Court on Thursday ruled for the release of Demirtaş in a case that he was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison based on a judicial reform package unveiled earlier this month that allows the release of convicts who are charged for less than five years imprisonment, Cumhuriyet said.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last year ordered the immediate release of Demirtaş, stating that his further confinement without any new evidence would amount to continued violations of Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights.