ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A regional court in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Tuesday fined the imprisoned Co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas 15,000 Liras (3,980 USD) over a 2016 speech in which the judges deemed he insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A lower court had earlier rejected Erdogan’s lawsuit, one of the hundreds, on the grounds he was a public figure and thus had to put up with harsh rhetoric and criticism from rival politicians and the public.
The President was demanding 50,000 Liras (13,260 USD) from the opposition party’s leader, already facing up to 142 years of imprisonment for allegations of separatism and ties with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The sentencing of Demirtas was followed by a similar ruling Wednesday against HDP lawmaker Leyla Birlik who received one year and nine months in prison from a Turkish court in her home province of Sirnak for “insulting” Erdogan in public.
With the sentencing, Birlik will now have to join Demirtas and eight other MPs who have been in prison since November 2016 when an ongoing government crackdown began with midnight house raids by police on the Kurdish party’s leadership.
In his speech during a rally in the Mediterranean city of Mersin, almost two years ago, Demirtas called Erdogan a “thief,” reminding of the corruption scandal in late 2013 in which the then Prime Minister, four of his ministers, and their family members were implicated.
He claimed that in Mersin Erdogan wanted to become “the caliph of the Muslim world” but was unfit for the said reason.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany