Jailed HDP co-chair to appear in court for first time in arrest case

Jailed HDP co-chair to appear in court for first time in arrest case

Jailed HDP co-chair to appear in court for first time in arrest case

The jailed co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is set to appear in court for the first time in the case that led to his arrest.

Selahattin Demirtaş will give his defense through the voice and video informatics system (SEGBİS) in the hearing to be held at the Sincan Prison Complex in Ankara on Dec. 7.

The jailed co-chair was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016, on terror charges as part of an investigation carried out by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, but his case was later sent to the Ankara 19th Heavy Penal Court for security reasons.

There are dozens of complaints filed against Demirtaş, who is jailed in the western province of Edirne, but the hearing on Dec. 7 will be the first of the case that led to his arrest.

The HDP released a statement regarding the hearing, saying that the number of lawyers defending Demirtaş is more than 1,250.

But the HDP has criticized being given a courtroom that has the capacity to hold 20 people only.

“The allocated courtroom is one that violates the right to defense. The number of lawyers who will defend Demirtaş is over 1,250. With the allocation, the interference of the lawyers in the case is trying to be prevented,” HDP lawmaker Ayşe Acar Başaran said in a statement released on Dec. 6, adding that the cases and investigations into the co-chair are “clear examples of the politicization of the judiciary.”

Human rights activists and political party representatives from 10 countries will follow the hearing.

While Demirtaş is set to appear in court 399 days after his arrest, the party’s former co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ’s trial continued at the Sincan Prison Complex on Dec. 6.

A group of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers were also at the complex to follow a separate case into the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have been behind the July 2016 failed coup attempt.

AKP lawmakers mistakenly walked into the hearing of Yüksekdağ, but left the courtroom after seeing the former co-chair and HDP lawmakers.

Yüksekdağ was stripped of her parliamentary status alongside several other HDP deputies on terrorism charges.

Other than Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ, there are seven HDP deputies under arrest for their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Elsewhere, the HDP has hung the summaries of proceedings against its lawmakers around the corridors of the party’s offices in parliament as a form of protest.

“These summaries of proceedings were prepared to dissolve a political movement. We are opening an exhibition of the summaries of proceedings against our lawmakers,” HDP co-chair Serpil Kemalbay told journalists on Dec. 5 before the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the symbolic exhibition.

Meanwhile, a group of activists, lawmakers, journalists and academics penned a letter on Dec. 5 demanding the release of Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ.

Renowned linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky is among the signatories of the letter demanding “Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ’s immediate and unconditional release from prison.”

Peoples' Democratic Party,