Demirtaş rules out running for mayor of Diyarbakır in local elections

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The pro-Kurdish Peoples's Democratic Party's (HDP) former leader Selahattin Demirtas and current Turkish presidential candidate, sits in prison in Edirne on May 4, 2018. Demirtas, who has been behind bars since November 2016, is in prison accused of links to outlawed Kurdish rebels and is facing a 142-year sentence on charges of leading a terror organization. / HANDOUT / AFP PHOTO / HDP

Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has said he does not have any intention of running in next year’s local elections in Turkey for the post of Diyarbakır mayor, according to his Twitter account.

“I want to offer my thanks to friends who comment on my possibly candidacy for the post of Diyarbakır mayor and write news reports about it, but I have no such intention. I have thousands of friends outside who will assume such duties,” Demirtaş tweeted on Monday.

His Twitter account is run by his lawyers. Turkey will hold local elections in March 2019.

Demirtaş has been behind bars since November 2016, facing terrorism charges.

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) urged Turkey to swiftly process the legal case of Demirtaş, saying his pretrial detention had gone on longer than could be justified.

Demirtaş was sentenced in September to more than four years in jail on terrorism charges related to a speech he gave in 2013.

Having already spent nearly two years in prison awaiting trial for those alleged offenses, he had effectively already served out the prison term handed down by the Turkish court.

But Demirtaş remains in prison facing several more terrorism-related charges, mostly for other speeches he gave, that could see him sentenced to up to 142 years in jail if found guilty.

“The Court found that the judicial authorities had extended Mr Demirtaş’ detention on grounds that could not be regarded as ‘sufficient’ to justify its duration,” the Strasbourg-based ECtHR said in a statement.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other government officials slammed the court’s ruling, saying that Turkey is not bound by the decision of the European court.

In the presidential elections held in June, Demirtaş ran against Erdoğan from prison and failed to be elected. He was Erdoğan’s rival again in the 2014 presidential election.

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