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Regional appeals court upholds Kurdish politician Demirtaş’s sentence

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A regional appeals court in Turkey has upheld Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş’s four year, eight month prison sentence for disseminating terrorist propaganda, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

He was indicted by a prosecutor along with former deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder for speeches delivered in İstanbul in 2013 on the occasion of Newroz, a traditional Kurdish event celebrating the beginning of spring.

Since the prison sentence is shorter than five years, Demirtaş cannot appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals, rendering the regional court’s decision final unless he applies to the Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

The ECtHR on Nov. 20 ruled that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention from a different case had gone on longer than could be justified.

“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 ECtHR said in a statement.

The ECtHR ruled that Ankara was to “take all necessary measures to put an end to the applicant’s pre-trial detention.”

However a local court on Nov. 30 refused to release Demirtaş and decided to ask Turkey’s Justice Ministry whether the ECtHR ruling was final.

Since the regional court’s decision on Demirtaş’s 2013 speech is a different case then the one that was ruled on by ECtHR, even if a local court enforces the ECtHR decision, he will still not be released from prison.

Demirtaş has been in Edirne prison since November 2016. If he does not receive another conviction, he will still remain in prison for at least one year, eight months, according to his lawyer.

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