Ex-HDP leader remains in prison despite another release order

Selahattin Demirtas, the imprisoned former co-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who was ordered released by a Turkish court for a second time, cannot get out of prison because of a separate case against him, the Cumhuriyet daily reported late on Thursday.

The pro-Kurdish leader has been behind bars since he was arrested in November 2016, on various charges related to his alleged connection to the Kurdish separatists in Turkey known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Turkish government designates the PKK, an armed group that has waged an insurgency in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast for more than three decades, a terrorist organization.

Demirtas was on Thursday released by the Istanbul 26th Heavy Penal Court in a case where he received a sentence of four years and eight months for “making propaganda for an armed terrorist organization.”

According to Cumhuriyet’s report, the court decision is based on a recently-unveiled judicial reform package that allows for the release of convicts sentenced for a term of imprisonment of less than five years.

On September 2, the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court also made the decision to release the 46-year-old politician over charges of insulting the president.

The release verdicts of Demirtas came as the trial continues in the main case against him, where the prosecutors are seeking a sentence of up to 142 years for the top pro-Kurdish politician.

Although the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in November 2018 ordered the immediate release of Demirtas, it was dismissed by the Turkish government on the grounds that it was not “legally binding” for the country.

In the aftermath of the collapse of a peace process between the ruling AK Party (AKP) and the outlawed PKK in 2015, Ankara intensified its crackdown on the pro-Kurdish HDP, accusing the party of acting in the interests of the PKK.

Since they took office after Turkey’s local elections in March, more than a dozen provincial and district mayors from the pro-Kurdish party have been dismissed from their posts and replaced with state-appointed officials. Some of them were also arrested on terror charges.

Pro-Kurdish mayors’ removal violates rule of law in Turkey, Imamoglu tells Europeans

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