Photo: HDP’s FB
ISTANBUL,— Lawyers applied on Wednesday for Selahattin Demirtas, a leading Kurdish politician and former leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), to be released from jail after a court ruled he was eligible to be set free, an HDP source said.
Demirtas, one of Turkey’s best known politicians and dubbed the “Kurdish Obama” by admirers, has been in jail for almost three years and faces several legal cases, mainly on terrorism charges.
A Turkish court last week ruled he should be released as the trial continues in the main case against him, in which prosecutors are seeking a jail sentence of up to 142 years.
But Demirtas’ release was blocked because he had been sentenced to four years and eight months in jail last September over comments he made in a speech in 2013.
The HDP source said Demirtas’ lawyers had applied for the three years he has spent in jail to be discounted from his existing sentence, which would make him eligible to be released on parole.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has urged Turkey to process his legal case swiftly, saying his pre-trial detention has gone on longer than could be justified.
A Turkish court last November rejected an appeal for his release.
Ankara accuses the HDP of ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The HDP denies such links and says it is being targeted because of its strong opposition to the president.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy in Turkish Kurdistan for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population. More than 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels, have been killed in the conflict.
A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974 and currently serving a life sentence in Turkey, has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.
PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union, the United States and Turkey. However, Russia, Switzerland, India, China and the United Nations do not list the PKK as a terrorist organization.
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