Turkish court upholds jail sentence for jailed Kurdish politician Demirtaş

A Turkish appeals court on Tuesday upheld a four-year-and-eight-month prison sentence for the jailed former head of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, for spreading propaganda on behalf of an armed terrorist group, left-wing Evrensel newspaper reported.

The decision by the court effectively prevents the implementation of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights last month that said the 44-year-old politician should be released, the newspaper said.

The same court also approved a three-year-and-six-month prison sentence for another HDP lawmaker Sırrı Süreyya Önder.

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.

HDP politicians are accused 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.