Presidential candidate Demirtaş’s lawyers to apply to Turkish top court for release

Lawyers for Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed presidential candidate from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), will apply for his release to Turkey’s Constitutional Court following rejections by two lower courts.

“The Constitutional Court has the authority to give a decision in a few days. We hope that they do and that they render a verdict that will shed light on this dark political atmosphere,” Mahsuni Karaman, one of the lawyers, tweeted on Thursday.

After the Higher Board of Election’s (YSK) official announcement of Demirtaş’s presidential candidacy, lawyers applied to the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court for his release on May 15, but the judges refused to grant it.

They then filed an objection with the Ankara 20th High Criminal Court; however, that court also refused his release on the basis that he would destroy the evidence against him.

The HDP’s ex-leader Demirtaş has been in pretrial detention since November 2016. The Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office drafted an indictment in January 2017 demanding a sentence of 142 years’ imprisonment on charges of being the director of a terrorist organization.


Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) presidential candidate Muharrem İnce had dinner with European Union ambassadors in Ankara on Wednesday evening, telling them he would visit the family of Demirtaş during a campaign visit to Diyarbakır, the Sözcü daily reported.

İnce answered questions from the ambassadors on controversial issues in Turkish politics, including education in the Kurdish language.

“We will teach Turkish, the mother tongue of the student and a foreign language [in schools],” İnce said.

When asked about whether he would be able to garner Kurdish support in the second round of voting in the snap elections, İnce said he wasn’t worried about that, bringing to mind a recent visit he made to Demirtaş in prison in Edirne.

İnce also took a question about the headscarf issue, which has occupied Turkey’s political debates for years, since wearing headscarves was not allowed for university students and public officials.

“This matter is a personal choice. I wouldn’t interfere in it,” İnce said.

If he wins the presidency, İnce said the first steps he would take would be to cancel an ongoing state of emergency, restore the independence of the central bank, re-establish the rule of law in Turkey and re-impose a system of checks and balances.

In reference to the vision of the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Atatürk, to reach “the level of contemporary civilizations,” İnce declared that Turkey’s direction should be towards the West. İnce also announced plans to meet with Turkish voters living in Greece and Bulgaria. (SCF with

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