HDP presidential candidate Demirtaş files appeal with top court against arrest
Selahattin Demirtaş, the presidential candidate of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court against his continued arrest, Doğan News Agency reported on May 29.
After his appeal for release was rejected by the Ankara 19th Penal Court of Peace on May 21, Demirtaş took the case to the top court through his lawyers, the agency reported.
The former HDP co-chair’s lawyers had taken the case to the upper court of the Ankara 20th Heavy Penal Court, which again rejected an appeal for his release in a ruling on May 24.
In its ruling, the court said there was “strong evidence” against Demirtaş that could be “tampered with,” Doğan News Agency reported.
Demirtaş has been in jail for a year-and-a-half on a variety of charges in a number of cases, faces a jail sentence of up to 142 years if convicted. He was nominated by the HDP as its presidential candidate earlier this month and is running for the presidency from his prison cell.
In his appeals notice, Demirtaş said it is a violation of his rights that he is imprisoned as a presidential candidate, and that he also has the right to elect and get elected.
The appeal filed with the Constitutional Court states Demirtaş’s continued jailing further overshadows the legitimacy of the elections.
Permission sought for Demirtaş to do interview via phone
Meanwhile, the HDP has applied to the Justice Ministry, seeking permission for Demirtaş to join a special election debate show on Fox TV via a pay phone in prison.
The party seeks authorization for Demirtaş to communicate with the media and take part in television shows, news website Bianet reported.
A former human rights lawyer, Demirtaş is one of Turkey’s best-known politicians, winning votes beyond his core Kurdish constituency in the 2015 elections. Prosecutors charge that he and hundreds of other detained HDP members are tied to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The HDP is the second-largest opposition party in the Turkish Parliament.
Another of the party’s former co-chairs, Figen Yüksekdağ, is also arrested on charges of “making terrorist propaganda” and “being a member of a terrorist organization.”