Jailed HDP co-chair Demirtaş blasts Turkish judiciary, delays in his case
Jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş has harshly criticized the judicial process in Turkey, condemning the 399-day gap between his imprisonment and the first hearing of his case.
“I was imprisoned because of accusations that I was running away from the judiciary. But for the last 13 months, the judiciary has been running away from me,” Demirtaş wrote on his official Twitter account via his lawyers on Dec. 7.
The comments of the Kurdish issue-focused co-chair came after the first hearing of his case, which took place in the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court without his attendance.
Demirtaş, who is currently being held in Edirne Prison in the northwestern province of Edirne, had repeatedly demanded to attend the hearing in person. The court rejected his demands citing “security reasons.”
After Demirtaş refused to participate in the first hearing of his case via an audio-visual system, his lawyers on Dec. 7 demanded that the issue be referred to the Constitutional Court.
Demirtaş and nine other HDP lawmakers were arrested on Nov. 4, 2016 on the grounds that they failed to show up to give their testimony to prosecutors after they were accused of terror charges based on alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The prosecutor’s indictment, which was not ready until February 2017, accused Demirtaş of “leading a terrorist organization,” “campaigning for a terrorist organization” and “inciting hate in public,” with possible prison sentences ranging from 42 to over 100 years.
At the first hearing 13 months after his arrest, the case was adjourned to February 2018. The court also ruled to keep Demirtaş in jail throughout the trial due to “a strong suspicion of criminal leadership” and the “nature of the offence,” which “necessitates imprisonment.”
His lawyers objected to both the indictment and his imprisonment, stressing that the case depended on 31 summary proceedings, all of which target Demirtaş’ public speeches as a politician.
“The judiciary was already in a pathetic condition. But now even that judiciary no longer exists. On the buildings of Justice Palaces [Turkish courthouses] the word ‘justice’ has been scrubbed off and only the word ‘palace’ is left,” Demirtaş said, blasting the influence of the presidential office on Turkey’s judiciary.
“Those who commit these crimes will one day be held accountable before the public. Their pandering to the palace will go down in the history books as a disgrace,” he added.