Sep 13 2019

Pro-Kurdish leader Demirtaş could be released soon, lawyer says

The lawyer of Selahattin Demirtaş, jailed former co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said he could be released soon, Rudaw Iraqi Kurdish news network Rudaw reported on Friday.

Demirtaş has been in prison since November 2016 on charges of membership to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed organisation that has been waging an armed insurgency on Turkish soil for over three decades, as well as he has been tried over insulting the state and the Turkish President.

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.

Demirtaş remained imprisoned due to a previously-approved sentence of four years and eight months last September over comments he made in a 2013 speech.

But Demirtaş could be released on parole soon considering his time served, lawyer Aydın Erdoğan said. The lawyers of jailed Kurdish politician on Sept. 12 applied for his release from jail.

"According to the current law in force in Turkey, he has served his time. There are some bureaucratic procedures and delays. There are also reasons (of delay) beyond our power and matters that we do not really know. But at any moment, we have the chance to see Demirtaş out and free. There are no more obstacles now," Rudaw quoted Erdoğan as saying.

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. The HDP denies such links.

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