Jailed HDP co-chair to be considered using ‘right to remain silent’ if he refuses to testify via video
A court has ruled that Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), will be considered to be using his “right to remain silent” if he continues to refuse to testify through the voice and video informatics system (SEGBİS).
Demirtaş, who has been under arrest since Nov. 4, 2016 in a prison in the northwestern province of Edirne, has been refusing to participate in the hearing in Ankara through SEGBİS, instead insisting on attending the hearing in person.
Demirtaş, who faces hundreds of years in jail over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) alongside with many other charges, says participating in the hearings through SEGBİS would violate his right to a face-to-face trial.
The court has denied that not attending the hearing physically is a violation of this right, so Demirtaş will be considered to be using his “right to remain silent” if he does not attend through SEGBİS.
In its ruling, the court said Demirtaş’s transfer to the courthouse in Ankara would pose several difficulties, including high costs and the provision of his security during the transfer.
On July 7, the HDP co-chair did not attend a hearing of his trial in Ankara after refusing to be handcuffed. At that time his party released a statement saying that “Demirtaş represents the people’s will.”
“I’m still a lawmaker with ongoing parliamentary immunity. I represent the people’s will. I find it illegal and immoral to be handcuffed for a journey that will last for hours,” he stated.
“In a case in which I’m being tried under arrest, the day of the hearing is still undetermined. We will resist injustice in every circumstance and will protect the honor of the people’s will that we represent,” Demirtaş said.
He had previously participated in hearings in several provinces through SEGBİS but has been refusing to do so for the past few hearings.
In addition to Demirtaş, former HDP co-chair and lawmaker Figen Yüksekdağ and nine deputies from the HDP are also currently in jail on terrorism charges and face hundreds of years in prison.