A Turkish court on Friday rejected the request for the release of Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas, according to a senior official of his party. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had however called for his release after two years of detention.
Detained since November 2016, accused of “terrorist” activities , Mr. Demirtas is facing up to one hundred and forty-two years in prison in the main lawsuit against him. The last sentence handed out the unsuccessful candidate in June’s presidential election and figurehead of the Democratic People’s Party (HDP), was for four years and eight months for “terrorist propaganda.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regularly accuses the HDP of being the political wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), classified as a terrorist group by Ankara. Erdogan quickly swept aside the decision of the ECHR, saying it was not binding for Turkey, even though the country is still a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In a statement released on Friday, the HDP denounced a “political”decision, taken under “pressure from President Erdogan” and in “violation of the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights”.