Pro-Kurdish party candidate files lawsuit against Erdoğan


Jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) presidential candidate Demirtaş has filed a lawsuit against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, following comments from the president that Demirtaş has the blood of tens of people on his hands ahead of Turkey’s presidential election slated for June 24, independent Diken news site reported.

The former co-chair of the HDP was arrested in November of 2016 and remains in pre-trial detention due to alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war with Turkey for over three decades, and may face a 142-year prison sentence.

The Turkish president on Friday responded to ongoing calls by Turkey’s opposition for Demirtaş’s release during presidential election campaigning.

‘’Release who? The person behind bars has the blood of 53 people on his hands,’’ Erdoğan said in an apparent reference to Demirtaş’s call for protests in October of 2014 against what many Kurds saw as Turkish support for Islamic State militants attacking the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, which resulted in deadly clashes between pro-Kurdish protesters and Turkish police.

Demirtaş’s lawyers highlighted that Erdoğan’s statements were an attack against the personal rights of the presidential hopeful.

‘’We announce that we are staring legal procedures against Erdoğan who has violated the principle of presumption of innocence,’’ Demirtaş’s lawyers said in their statement on Saturday.

The 44-year-old candidate on Saturday took to Twitter to criticize Erdoğan, saying, ‘’You continue to slander me in city squares and on television. My hands are tied here, yet you continue to talk behind my back.’’

Demirtaş received 9.76 percent of the vote, coming in third place in Turkey’s 2014 presidential election.