Kurdish leader’s right to liberty violated, says Turkey’s Constitutional Court

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the lengthy imprisonment of a former head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) violated his rights, a decision published on Friday showed, but he is expected to remain in prison due to a separate case, Reuters reported.

Selahattin Demirtaş, one of Turkey’s most popular political figures, has been in jail since November 2016 on terrorism-related charges. He faces a sentence of up to 142 years in prison in the main case against him.

The court’s decision said his pre-trial detention exceeded a reasonable period of time and that his right to personal liberty was violated, ordering the government to pay TL 50,000 ($7,300) in compensation.

A court ruled last September that Demirtaş should be released while his main trial continues. Prosecutors then launched a new investigation into him and again requested his arrest after the lifting of the previous detention order. The Constitutional Court ruling concerns the detention for this period. Demirtaş denies the charges against him.

Ankara accuses Demirtaş’s HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The HDP denies such links.

On November 20, 2018 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Demirtaş’s lengthy pre-trial detention was in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, ordering the Turkish government to pay 10,000 euros in compensation and calling for his release.

Following the ECtHR decision, a Turkish appeals court upheld a four-year, eight-month sentence and in effect nullified the ECtHR decision. Demirtaş’s lawyers then brought the case to the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR.

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