HDP’s jailed co-chair Demirtaş to appear before court for first time 399 days after his arrest

Selahattin Demirtaş.

Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is set to appear in court on Thursday for the first time in the case that led to his arrest 399 days ago. will give his defense through the voice and video informatics system (SEGBİS) in the hearing to be held at the Sincan Prison Complex in Ankara.

Which court, Demirtaş’s case would be heard in, could have not been decided for a long time, and then the case was attempted to be combined with the case of four pro-Hezbullah people’s killings. Demirtaş’s file went back and forth between the Ankara 2nd High Criminal Court and Ankara 10th High Criminal Court several times, but wasn’t combined in the end.

Two days before the hearing, the case expected to be heard in the Sıhhiye Courthouse was transferred to the Sincan Prison Campus hall for alleged ‘security’ reasons. The court has also decided to not to bring Demirtaş into the courtroom for the hearing again for ‘security’ reasons as well. The hearing will be held in the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court on Thursday.

The HDP released a statement regarding the hearing, saying that the number of lawyers defending Demirtaş is more than 1,250. National and international human rights activists and political party representatives from 10 countries will follow the hearing. But the HDP has criticized being given a courtroom that has the capacity to hold 20 people only.

“The allocated courtroom is one that violates the right to defense. The number of lawyers who will defend Demirtaş is over 1,250. With the allocation, the interference of the lawyers in the case is trying to be prevented,” HDP deputy Ayşe Acar Başaran said in a statement released on Wednesday, adding that the cases and investigations into the co-chair are “clear examples of the politicization of the judiciary.”

Demirtaş was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016, on terror charges as part of an investigation carried out by the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office, but his case was later sent to the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court for security reasons. There are dozens of complaints filed against Demirtaş, who is jailed in the western province of Edirne.

Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians as well as 9 HDP deputies including the party’s co-chairs are behind bars on terror charges.

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