Former pro-Kurdish party leader Demirtaş’s lawyers apply to ECHR

The lawyers of jailed pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party Selahattin Demirtaş have applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after a four year jail sentence for conducting terrorist propaganda was made definite, independent news site T24 reported on Tuesday.

In September of last year, Demirtaş was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison after being convicted of “spreading terrorist propaganda,” during a speech he delivered in March of 2013.

A Turkish appeals court upheld the decision on Dec. 4, effectively preventing the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Nov. 2018 for the  44-year-old politician who was arrested in Nov. 2016 and remains in jail to be released.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded to the court’s ruling by saying the country is not bound by decisions from the ECHR.

Demirtaş is one of nine HDP lawmakers currently behind bars in Turkey on terrorism-related charges after the lifting of their parliamentary immunity in May 2016, following the breakdown of an HDP-mediated peace process between the government and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) armed rebels.

Ankara accuses HDP politicians of aiding the PKK, an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for more than 30 years and is designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

 Demirtaş’s lawyers applied to the ECHR on Dec. 31, on grounds of violation of the lawmaker’s ‘’principal of fair trial and presumption of innocence,’’ ‘’freedom of expression,’’ and ‘’right to free election,’’ T24 said.

Former presidential candidate Demirtaş faces possible jail sentences totalling more than 100 years on a range of terrorism charges.