ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Turkish criminal court in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir on Thursday sentenced the opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) spokesperson Osman Baydemir to one year, five months, and 15 days of imprisonment.
The court ruled that Baydemir, who represents the Sanliurfa Province at the Turkish Parliament, committed a crime for “insulting an on-duty government employee.”
Prosecutors were asking for up to three years of imprisonment over Baydemir’s calling three Turkish police officers “fascists, and low-lives” during a confrontation over authorities’ banning of a rally in 2012 to draw attention to the plight of Kurdish political prisoners.
His wife, Reyhan Yalcindag Baydemir, was defending him as an attorney, reported Kurdistan 24’s Diyarbakir bureau.
Police have this year briefly arrested Baydemir two times in relation to the case so far, in January and June.
It was not immediately clear when the authorities would act to detain Baydemir again—whose party continues to face a massive government crackdown since last year.
Baydemir, also the former mayor of Diyarbakir, has been a vocal supporter of the Kurdistan Region’s recent referendum on independence from Iraq, countering the staunch opposition of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.
Turkey has already jailed HDP’s Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas and nine other lawmakers, along with 80 mayors and thousands of party members.
The Turkish Parliament has ousted five of the party’s MPs, bringing down the total number of pro-Kurdish lawmakers from 59 to 54 at the 550-seat assembly.
Erdogan accuses the HDP of being a political front for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that is waging a decades-long guerrilla warfare over state repression of Kurdish rights.
HDP denies the charges.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany