Case of pro-Kurdish HDP’s Demirtaş in limbo over disagreement between Turkish courts

Selahattin Demirtaş.

A case into imprisoned pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş has not been processed due to a disagreement between the courts. The case file of Demirtaş, who was detained in Diyarbakır and later arrested on November 3, 2016, in which he is accused of “establishing and leading a terrorist organization,” “making terrorist propaganda,” and “praising crime and criminals,” has not been processed because the Ankara 2nd High Criminal Court and the Ankara 19th Criminal Court had a disagreement over the case.

When the Ankara High Criminal Court No. 2 refused the demand to combine Demirtaş’s case with the case of Yasin Börü and 3 others who were killed during the October 6-8, 2014 incidents by stating that there is no possibility of Demirtaş being responsible for the incidents in question; the Ankara High Criminal Court No. 19 decided to combine the cases ex officio.

The dispute between the two courts was taken to the Ankara Regional Court of Justice. This higher court  has also rejected the demand and ruled that Demirtaş may be tried for “inciting to commit a crime” about the October 2014 incidents but cannot be held responsible for the killing of Börü. “It is understood that there is not any issue that he might be related to within this case file,” it said.

Demirtaş’s lawyer Mahsuni Karaman said that “Nobody wants to put Demirtaş on trial, because the responsibility is very high. We believe that the courts don’t want to take on these cases because the accusations and allegations in them are far fetched.”

Karaman also stated that Demirtaş won’t be attending the coming hearings via the video conferencing system SEGBİS and that he wants to attend the courts in the cities the hearings are held in. Karaman added that “He himself has declared that if the imposition to take him to hearings in handcuffs continues, he won’t be attending the hearings at all.”

The lawyer has also said that “Demirtaş has been in prison for about two months without any court decisions. The examination of his imprisonment has not been done for the past two months. We will demand his release.”

Demirtaş is on trial for a total of 21 cases in 11 cities throughout Turkey, other than the case he is arrested for. There are currently 11 HDP deputies behind bars in Turkey after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government stepped up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians last fall. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terror charges.

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