Turkish court keeps former HDP leader in jail during trial

Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-leader of the HDP, has said the indictments in the case in which he is being tried were prepared by now-imprisoned Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) suspects in the judiciary
Court rules to keep Selahattin Demirtaş behind bars.
Saturday, 17 February 2018 04:21

A Turkish court on Friday denied a request from the former co-head of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples' Party (HDP) to be released from jail while his terrorism trial continues.

Selahattin Demirtaş has said the indictments in the case in which he is being tried were prepared by now-imprisoned Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) suspects in the judiciary.

"You have included all these plots produced by FETÖ members in the [case] file, in order to utilize them against HDP members. All the audio surveillance and records are illegal. They were distorted and changed. People have been depicted as members of an illegal organization. This is a plot, this is a trap," he said.

Gülen network, referred to by Ankara as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), led by U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, was one of the masterminds of 15 July 2016  failed coup attempt. 

Selahattin Demirtaş is being accused of being an administrator of the PKK and being the head of its political section. He denies the charges but faces up to 142 years in prison if convicted.

Standing in the dock on the second day of the hearing, Demirtaş said that FETÖ members infiltrated into the judiciary and police officers produced “distorted and altered” recordings and evidence in his name, which were later included in the indictments leading to his imprisonment.

Demirtaş also stated that the photographs at Qandil, the centre of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, had been distributed with the AKP government’s approval, yet they were put as evidence on the file after the so-called solution process failed.

The PKK, which has waged a decades-long armed conflict in Turkey since the 1980s, has camps in the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq, from which it frequently carries out attacks in nearby Hakkari.

Talking about the photographs and sound recordings that were shown as evidence regarding his link to the PKK, Demirtaş said, "You can send all the sound recordings, audio surveillance to the criminal [bureau]. I admit all of them. We had photographs at İmralı [the prison where PKK leader Öcalan is jailed] and Kandil. We did not bring the cameras to the prison where the cameras were prohibited. The official took that photographs there."


Arguing that those photos were an indication showing that how the "solution process" was seriously proceeded, Demirtaş continued, "[The photos] were transferred to the digital environment with the seal of Justice Ministry. The photos taken in Kandil were distributed with a government approval. When the solution process failed, then those photos were attached to the file as evidence."     

The process, which was initiated by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP government and the Kurdish politicians with the aim of allegedly resolving the longstanding Kurdish-Turkish conflict, failed when the parties could not agree on further proceedings behind closed doors.

Talking on the PKK-affiliated Democratic Society Congress' (DTK) democratic autonomy call, Demirtaş said that they used the slogan of "Common Homeland, Democratic Republic", adding that this organization was not a violent organization but alternative to violence.

The court is set to hold the next hearing in his case on April 11.

The former HDP co-chief was jailed in November 2016 in a crackdown. Nine MPs including Demirtaş and other co-leader Figen Yülksekdağ remain in jail.