ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Turkish court on Monday ruled for the release of imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas who has been in pre-trial detention since 2016.
The 19th Assize Court of Ankara “ruled unanimously” for the release of the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the HDP said on its official Twitter page.
“Demirtas should be released immediately,” it added, noting the politician had been “unlawfully imprisoned.”
Today the 19th Assize Court of Ankara has ruled unanimously for the release of our former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş who has been unlawfully imprisoned since November 2016. Demirtaş should be released immediately. #FreeDemirtas pic.twitter.com/sUjaX5bHLK— HDP English (@HDPenglish) September 2, 2019
Although the court ruled for his release, the Kurdish leader’s lawyers said he would remain in prison as he serves a four-year and eight-month sentence for a separate crime.
In July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said Demirtas’ entire sentence should be overturned because he was calling for a peaceful solution to Turkey’s “Kurdish problem,” not making statements that encourage “violence, armed resistance or rebellion.”
The Turkish government accuses the HDP of having close ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an allegation it has used to justify its crackdown on Kurdish politicians. The HDP denies links to the PKK.
Turkish police arrested Demirtas along with 10 other MPs in simultaneous night raids across several provinces on Nov. 4, 2016, with charges of terrorism and separatism based on various public speeches they had delivered.
Prosecutors have asked up to 142 years for him in different probes, including one involving accusations he insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but no conviction has been delivered.
Erdogan has openly called him a “terrorist,” and declared, if authorized by the Parliament, that he would sign the death sentence for his then-rival in the run-up to the June 2018 presidential and general elections.