The imprisoned former co-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtas, has been released by an Ankara court from pre-trial detention over terror-related charges.
The Ankara 19th High Criminal Court unanimously made the decision to release Demirtas on Monday since his defense had been completed.
However, the pro-Kurdish leader will continue serving time behind bars as he is also serving a sentence for a separate crime.
Being in prison since November 2016, the 46-year-old was given a sentence of nearly five-year by an Istanbul court on December 2018 for “making propaganda for an armed terrorist organization.”
He faces up to 142 years in prison if found guilty of the rest of the charges against him.
Arti Gercek reported Demirtas’ release is conditional upon whether he will be granted parole for the sentence he is currently serving.
The release verdict followed the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)’s November 2018 call demanding the release of the pro-Kurdish politician, which had been dismissed by Ankara immediately on the grounds that it “was not legally binding for Turkey.”
Neither Demirtas nor his lawyers attended Monday’s hearing, indicating in a statement that they were preparing for a September 18 hearing at the Grand Chamber of ECHR.
Arzu Kayaoglu, one of Demirtas’ lawyers, told reporters that the politician’s first comment on the verdict of his release was that “it is good, fair and lawful.”
“Demirtas must be released and this injustice should end immediately,” Sezai Temelli, the leader of pro-Kurdish HDP said in a tweet on Monday.
— Sezai Temelli (@SezaiTemelli) September 2, 2019
Among many other charges, HDP’s Demirtas is accused of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has launched an insurgency in southeastern Turkey for over three decades.
The PKK is regarded as a terrorist organization by the Turkish state, as well as the United States and the European Union.
The Turkish government increased its crackdown on the pro-Kurdish HDP following the collapse of a settlement process between the ruling AK Party (AKP) and the outlawed PKK in 2015, due to blaming the party for acting in the interests of the PKK.
Last month, three mayors from the HDP in Turkey’s key southeastern provinces were dismissed from their offices and replaced by state-appointed officials as part of a major terror investigation that also included detentions of more than 400 people.