Turkish court dismisses plea for release of Demirtaş after ECHR ruling
A Turkish court on Nov. 30 rejected a request from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for the release of Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who has been in prison for over two years on terrorism charges.
The Ankara court dismissed the petition by defence lawyers of Demirtaş, ignoring the Nov. 20 ruling by the Strasbourg-based ECHR.
The ECHR had ruled Demirtaş’ imprisonment had been aimed at "stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate", calling for his release from the pre-trial detention.
The HDP said in a statement that the Ankara court’s latest decision was taken for "political reasons" and under "pressure from President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and the executive".
"This is clearly a violation of the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights," its co-leaders Pervin Buldan and Sezai Temelli said in a statement.
Demirtaş, 45, is charged with a string of offences, including terrorist propaganda for the illegal PKK, for which he faces up to 142 years in prison if convicted. He denies the charges.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the U.S.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had said the Turkish government was planning to object to the ECHR ruling and will take it to a higher chamber of Europe's top court.
In reaction to claims that Turkey’s membership to the Council of Europe could be endangered in the event that it does not comply with the court’s decision, the minister said many countries, particularly Greece, had long been violating this principle especially on verdicts about the rights of the Turkish minority in the Western Thrace.