Former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas, who has been in prison on terror charges since 2016 lashed out at Turkish judges and prosecutors during a court hearing in Ankara, Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.
“How did the judiciary end up like this? All they do is telling lies, slandering and plotting,” Demirtas said during a hearing held in Sincan Prison Complex in Ankara on Wednesday.
Demirtas, who is jailed in the western province of Edirne, attended the hearing in Ankara through an online video conference system called SEGBIS.
He highlighted that he is in custody with political motives and therefore, he will never demand his release in a defense.
“My defenses during these hearings are not expectations for justice and hope, but a struggle for justice. They are my historical responsibility,” he added.
“Despite all of the plots against us [pro-Kurdish HDP], millions of people stood behind us and made the ruling party lost [the election in big cities],” the jailed leader said referring to the March 31 local election.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was defeated in major cities, including Turkey’s business hub Istanbul and capital Ankara, in a significant setback for President Tayyip Erdogan in the local elections.
As part of its political strategy in Turkey’s west, pro-Kurdish HDP sat out the mayoral races in large cities and urged its supporters to cast strategic votes for the Nation Alliance formed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and nationalist opposition IYI (Good) Party.
Partly due to the HDP’s strategy, secularist opposition CHP has won the race in Istanbul, the city where Erdogan’s political career began as mayor in the 1990s.
As part of his defense, Demirtas also called on the public to be aware of the hundreds of people currently on a hunger strike in protest against the isolation imposed by the Turkish government on Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The leader condemned Turkish police violence against families who were trying to draw attention to hunger strikes of their children in prison by holding a sit-in protest in front of the Gebze prison in Kocaeli.
Some mothers were manhandled and harassed by the police during the protest, according to a news report by the pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya (MA).
Ocalan has not been allowed to see any family members since September 2016, and his lawyers since 2011.
Demirtas has been in prison since 4 November 2016 when he was arrested on terror charges as part of an investigation carried out by the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office.
The arrest came after the immunity of 112 Members of Parliament were removed by the Turkish parliament’s general assembly in relation to over 500 dossiers in 2016.
In November 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) called on his release, but Turkish courts have not implemented that decision.