ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - The imprisoned co-chair of Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas refused Friday to go to the capital Ankara, with handcuffs in his hand to appear before a court.
"I represent the people's will. I find being in handcuffs for hours during transport in a prison vehicle illegal and immoral," said Demirtas in a written statement released by his party.
Demirtas continued to claim immunity from prosecution despite a May 2016 law that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government revoked with support from the opposition.
Turkish officials then took Demirtas back to the cell they hold him in a supermax prison in the northwestern Edirne Province, read the statement on the HDP website.
Had he accepted handcuffs, it would be the first time he stepped in a courthouse since his midnight arrest in a home raid in November 2016.
A Kurdistan24 reporter following the trial said lawyers defending the Kurdish leader, also a lawmaker representing an Istanbul constituency, left the Ankara courtroom in protest.
"We will resist injustice under any circumstances. We will continue to defend the honor of people's will," Demirtas added in his letter.
HDP's newly elected other Co-chair Serpil Kemalbay told the media outside the court that Demirtas' trial was one not requiring his detention.
Kemalbay went on calling the whole affair 'illegal,' adding the imprisonment of Demirtas was related to the fact that his leadership succeeded in garnering enough votes to deny the AKP the formation of another one-party government in June 2015 elections.
Demirtas is already serving prison sentences in two separate cases.
Prosecutors have previously asked for a jail sentence of up to 142 years for Demirtas, accusing him of having links to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a charge he has denied.
A group of European politicians this week nominated Demirtas for the 2017 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize given by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in memory of the late President of the Czech Republic who became a symbol of resistance to the 1968 Soviet invasion of his country.
Editing by Ava Homa