Politics, Torture, Turkey

Appeals court demands reversal of sentence for pro-Kurdish leader Demirtaş

An appeals court in Istanbul has demanded the reversal of the sentence against Selahattin Demirtaş, the imprisoned former co-leader of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Cumhuriyet said on Sunday.

Demirtaş was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison in 2018 for his speech at a Kurdish new year celebration (Newroz) during the peace process in 2013.

The court said the Kurdish leader’s speech was evaluated incorrectly and if the speech was taken as a whole, his words would remain within the bounds of freedom of expression, according to Cumhuriyet.

Meanwhile, Demirtaş’s right of defence was violated because he was informed of the charges only two days before his defence, according to the ruling.

Demirtaş has been in prison since November 2016 on charges of propagating terror propaganda and membership of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed organisation engaged in a conflict with the Turkish state for over three decades that has been designated as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in November 2018 demanded Demirtaş’s release, stating that the extension of his detention throughout two crucial elections had been designed to stifle pluralism and limit political debate.