Jailed pro-Kurdish party leader's trial opens in Turkey

A trial against the imprisoned leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish HDP party on terror charges has opened in the Turkish capital
Thursday, 07 December 2017 16:30

The jailed leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party (HDP) went on trial on Thursday, 13 months after his arrest on terrorism-related charges.

Prosecutors are seeking a total of 142 years in prison for Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-chairman of the HDP. He is charged with "establishing a terrorist organisation", "spreading terror group propaganda" and "praising crimes and criminals".

Demirtaş, who is imprisoned in the northwestern city of Edirne, did not attend Thursday's trial. He was not allowed to appear in court for security reasons and refused to take part via video link. The court ruled that Demirtaş be kept in jail, in line with the prosecutor's demand.

HDP leader was arrested last year when the government launched a crackdown following a failed coup attempt. The party's former co-leader, Figen Yüksekdağ, also jailed pending trial on terrorism charges, was remanded in custody by an Ankara court on Wednesday.

The Turkish parliament stripped lawmakers of legal immunity last year, paving the way for the arrest of several HDP legislators. The arrests follow the collapse of a 'peace agreement' between the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP government and the HDP, PKK in 2015.

The government accuses the HDP of links to the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The group is deemed a terrorist organisation by the United States, Turkey and Europe. The HDP denies the accusation.

Authorities banned protests across Ankara province for the three days until Friday for "security reasons".