Ankara court rejects request for Demirtas’ release

Former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas’ three-day long hearing ended today. An Ankara court gave a preliminary decision on the case, ruling for the continuance of Demirtaş’s imprisonment while rejecting his attorneys’ release request.

Prosecution demands 142-year prison term for Demirtaş on charges of administrating a terrorist organisation, making propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK and exalting crimes and criminals.

Joining to the hearing at Ankara court via online video conference system from an Edirne prison, 700 kilometres far from the capital, Demirtaş said in his defence that all the charges against him are based on speeches he gave during his political activities.

Reading the charges against him on the digest, Demirtas asserted that his parliamentary immunity was unlawfully revoked, in violation of the constitution.

Underlining that he is in custody with political motives: “I do not want my release,” he added further. Next hearing is postponed to April 24-25.

In 2016, the Turkish parliament’s general assembly voted on a bill to remove the immunity of 112 Members of Parliament in relation to over 500 dossiers.

Afterwards, Demirtas was arrested on terrorism charges against him on November 4, 2016. He has been imprisoned since then.

Demirtaş’s attorneys requested his release saying that there is no base for suspicion of his absconding. The court rejected the demand on the merits of strong criminal suspicion against him.

Demirtas was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison in September 2018. He is in prison with nine other HDP MPs. One of the serious charges he was convicted for was that of propaganda for PKK.

Demirtas ran for the presidency during the presidential elections of June 2018. He had to run his campaign from his prison cell, despite the calls from other candidates for his release in order to have a fair and free election.

European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) called on his release in November 2018 but Turkish courts have not implemented that decision.

Turkish court renounces European Court’s ruling over Demirtas’ release

You might also like