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Demirtaş’s lawyers go to top court after appeals court upholds prison sentence

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Lawyers for jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş applied to Turkey’s Constitutional Court after an appeals court upheld a prison sentence of four years, eight months handed down to their client on terrorism charges, Turkish media reports said on Monday.

Demirtaş, a former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was arrested in November 2016 on terrorism charges. A court found him guilty in September of disseminating terrorist propaganda and sentenced him to four years, eight months in prison.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled on Nov. 20 that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention had gone on longer than could be justified and ordered his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the European court’s ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey on Dec. 4 upheld Demirtaş’s four year, eight month prison sentence for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Demirtaş’s lawyers in their petition to the Constitutional Court referred to some articles of the Turkish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, which they said were violated in Demirtaş’s case, such as the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and the presumption of innocence, as well as to the European court’s decision on Demirtaş, asking the top court to handle Demirtaş’s case with urgency and make a ruling in line with the law.

The Kurdish politician ran from prison as a candidate against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the presidential election in Turkey in June. Although he was unable to conduct an election campaign, he received 8.4 percent of the vote.

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