Lawyers of top Kurdish politician apply for his release from prison

The lawyers of Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), applied on Wednesday for his release from jail after a court ruled he was eligible to be set free, Reuters reported, citing an HDP source.  

Demirtaş, who ran for president in 2015 and 2018, has been in jail for almost three years and faces several legal cases, mainly on terrorism charges. A Turkish court last week ruled he should be released as the trial continues in the main case against him, in which prosecutors are seeking a sentence of up to 142 years.

But Demirtaş’ release was blocked because he had been sentenced to four years and eight months in jail last September over comments he made in a 2013 speech.

The HDP source told Reuters that Demirtaş’ lawyers applied for the three years he has spent in jail to be discounted from his existing sentence, which would make him eligible to be released on parole.

In November, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) urged Turkey to release the former HDP leader, but a Turkish court rejected the ruling. 

Turkey accuses the HDP of ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union, the United States and Turkey. The HDP denies such links.