Turkey’s Constitutional Court rejects Demirtaş’s application for release

The main building of Turkey's Constitutional Court.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has rejected an application filed by lawyers for release of Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed presidential candidate of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), during the campaign period for upcoming elections on June 24.

His lawyers on May 29 requested a court order for Demirtaş’s immediate release after two local courts ruled for a continuation of his imprisonment. The court’s decision referred to the request for a court order, saying that nothing necessitating an immediate release had occurred during his imprisonment.

Demirtaş’s lawyer Ramazan Demir told Hürriyet Daily News that they appealed to the court because “as a person who is a candidate for presidency, he cannot carry out an election campaign like the other five candidates, and this situation violates the free election rights of him and his voters, casting a shadow on the impartiality and legitimacy of the elections.”

The commission sent the file to the court for examination, which will give the final decision on the appeal over imprisonment. The related commission of the top court rejected the appeal for an urgent examination of the file, referring to the Constitutional Court’s bylaw, which indicates that injunction decisions can only be given where there are serious threats against the applicant’s life and property.

The HDP has criticized the commission’s rejection, arguing that the application did not refer to the bylaw in which the commission grounded its decision. “It is worth mentioning that we do not have any appeal over the bylaw article 73. Our appeal was based on article 68 of the bylaw demanding prior examination of the file,” the statement from the HDP headquarters read. “The decision of the Constitutional Court for a demand that was not appealed, clearly indicates that it gives a decision with directives,” the HDP stated.

Demirtaş was arrested in November 2016 and has been in prison since. There are currently more than 30 indictments filed against him, mostly over his public statements. However, he is in prison for only one case where he is tried for being a member of a terrorist

Demirtaş’s rivals Muharrem İnce, Meral Akşener and Temel Karamollaoğlu had previously said he should be free at least during the campaign period. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly called Demirtaş a “terrorist” in response to the opposition’s demand for his release. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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