Jul 17 2019

Turkish court rules to keep pro-Kurdish lawmaker Demirtaş in jail

A Turkish court on Wednesday ruled for the continuation of arrest for the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş until his next hearing in September, Turkish news agency DHA reported.

Demirtaş has been in prison since 2016 and is accused of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), among other terrorism charges.  The PKK is an armed group that has fought Turkish security forces for Kurdish self-rule since 1984. Ankara, the EU and the United States designate the PKK a terrorist organisation. The pro-Kurdish lawmaker faces up to 142 years in prison.

Demirtaş attended the hearing via SEGBIS, a court-to-prison teleconferencing system, during which time he called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government the ‘’real criminals’’  for suspending Turkey’s constitution.

“Those who rule Turkey are committing the biggest crime. The Constitution is currently suspended,” DHA quoted Demirtaş as saying.

The HDP lawmaker is on trial over a speech he delivered in 2013 in the eastern province of Elazığ.

Demirtaş said the prosecutor was biased against him and bothered by hearing the word Kurd.

“They did not say which of my remarks exactly constitute the crime of making terrorist propaganda. I guess we’ll have to guess,’’ Demirtaş added.

Demirtaş’s lawyers demanded his release on the grounds that the HDP lawmaker had been under arrest for over 3 years without a verdict due to what they said was a political ruling.

Following the court's decision Demirtaş said, “As of this minute, justice has been murdered, even if you rule for my release. As rapists, thieves and thugs face trial without arrest, I feel more dignified in my cell."

The prosecutor demanded the continuation of Demirtaş’s arrest, stating that his alleged crimes fell under special circumstances and that there was concrete evidence that the alleged crimes had been committed.

Demirtaş’s next hearing is scheduled for September 2.