Jailed HDP co-chair Demirtaş acquitted of ‘insulting’ former top soldier
Jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was acquitted on Nov. 30 of “insulting a public official” over his remarks about former Chief of General Staff Necdet Özel, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Demirtaş had faced a prison sentence of up to two years for his remarks about Özel during a speech he delivered in 2012 in the Sultanbeyli district of Istanbul. He remains in jail, as he is being tried in a number of other cases.
During the hearing at Istanbul’s 66th Criminal Court, Demirtaş’s lawyer Ercan Kanar demanded his client’s acquittal, asking for Demirtaş’s remarks to be evaluated within the context of freedom of expression.
Kanar said Demirtaş’s speech had nothing to do with the official duties of Özel, who was the chief of general staff at the time, but represented a valid request for mother-tongue education, staying well within the limits of reasonable criticism.
The court subsequently acquitted Demirtaş on the grounds that the actions attributed to him were not definable as crimes in the eyes of the law.
The HDP co-chair has been in jail since Nov. 4, 2016, along with eight other deputies of the party, including Figen Yüksekdağ, a former co-chair pending trial on terror-related charges.