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Erdoğan says ECtHR ruling on Demirtaş amounts to supporting terrorism

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that a European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) ruling on the jailed former leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition amounted to support of terrorism, Reuters reported.

The ECtHR urged Turkey on Tuesday to swiftly process the legal case of Selahattin Demirtaş, former leader of the Kurdish party in parliament, saying his pre-trial detention had gone on longer than could be justified.

Erdoğan said Demirtaş had the blood of 50 people on his hands. Turkey accuses the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The HDP denies this.

The HDP’s former co-chair Demirtaş has been in pre-trial detention since November 2016 along with other co-chair, Figen Yüksekdağ.

The ECtHR also criticized Turkey for keeping Demirtaş detained during two elections: a constitutional referendum in 2017 and this year’s presidential ballot.

“The extensions of Mr Demirtaş’ detention, especially during two crucial campaigns … pursued the predominant ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate,” it said.

According to party leaders, more than 12,000 HDP members were put in jail by Turkish authorities.

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