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Turkey orders rearrest of jailed pro-Kurdish leaders, Erdogan vows not to release them

An Ankara court has ordered rearrest of Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, former co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) as part of a new investigation against the two, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Friday.

Turkish prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Demirtas over charges of inciting violence during the demonstrations in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast on October 6-8, 2014.

The prosecutors issued another arrest warrant for Yuksekdag, who is also in jail over terror-related charges since November 2016.

Critics view the move as an effort to prevent his expected release from prison, following a decision by a local court in early September.

After the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court ruled Demirtas’ release while the trial continues, his lawyers on Friday sought his release on parole as the 46-year-old was serving a sentence of nearly five-year for “making propaganda for an armed terrorist organization.”

Demirtas who has been in prison for nearly three years faces a sentence of 142 years in prison in the main case against him, along with several other terror charges.

The pro-Kurdish HDP officials defined the court’s order to re-arrest the former co-chairs as “the massacring of the principles of universal law once again,” in a tweet on Friday.

Announcing the new investigation on Twitter through his lawyers, Demirtas argued that it was against the law to issue arrest warrants over an accusation that they had been arrested pending trial for almost three years. 

“So, there’s no judiciary, no justice, no law, and no judges. Not just for us, for none of you,” the politician emphasized. 

“New tricks to prevent Demirtas from being free two days after the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights] hearing,” Benan Molu, an attorney for Demirtas, tweeted.

ECHR Grand Chamber on Wednesday heard Demirtas’ case in full and is expected to deliver a verdict on whether his detention is unlawful and politically motivated, in the upcoming months.

Since a government-led crackdown on the judiciary and other state institutions in the aftermath of a failed military coup in July 2016 and Turkey’s switch to an executive presidential system in June 2018, the independence of the country’s judiciary has been intensely debated.

While many critics claim that the courts are under the influence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party (AKP), both Erdogan and officials of his party have repeatedly denied it, saying that the judiciary is free to make its own decisions.

Erdogan, on the other hand, said on Saturday during a speech in Istanbul that his government would not allow the release of “people responsible for the death of dozens during the anti-government protests in 2014.”

His remarks came a day after a new investigation launched against the HDP leaders over the same charges. 

Turkey’s judiciary used to squelch opposition Demirtas tells ECHR

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