Turkish Minute

Demirtaş’s lawyers file petition for his release following rights court’s ruling

In this handout photo provided by the pro-Kurdish Peoples's Democratic Party (HDP), former party leader Selahattin Demirtas sits in prison in Edirne on May 4, 2018. Demirtaş has been behind bars since November 2016, is in prison accused of links to outlawed Kurdish rebels and is facing a 142-year sentence. / AFP PHOTO / Kurdish Peoples's Democratic Party (HDP) / HANDOUT

Lawyers representing jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş have petitioned a Turkish court for the release of their client based on a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECThR) on Tuesday calling for his immediate release, according to one of his attorneys.

Mahsuni Karaman announced from his Twitter account on Wednesday that the rights court’s ruling is binding for Turkey, and as a result Demirtaş’s lawyers petitioned the court for his release and the dropping of charges against him.

The Strasbourg-based court found Turkey guilty of violating the rights of Demirtaş, who has been in jail since November 2016, on five counts including violation of the rights to freedom of expression, liberty and security and free elections as well as limitations on the use of restrictions on rights.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday sounded defiant in the wake of the European court’s ruling, accusing it of acting with hypocrisy and making a ruling without the exhaustion of domestic remedies.

The court’s Tuesday ruling was made by its Grand Chamber following appeals from both Turkey and Demirtaş to the court’s original ruling in November 2018.

In the meantime, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu in a statement on Thursday described the ECtHR ruling on Demirtaş as “null and void,” while referring to the politician as a “terrorist.”

“It [the ECtHR] decision has no meaning. It is very clear,” said Soylu.

Demirtaş, who was the co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) when he was arrested in November 2016, has been behind bars since then despite a decision from the ECtHR in November 2018 that ruled Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was a political act and called for his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the European court’s ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey subsequently upheld a prison sentence given to Demirtaş for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

The court also ordered Turkey to pay Demirtaş 3,500 euros in pecuniary damages, 25,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages and 31,900 euros in costs and expenses.

Demirtaş was an outspoken critic of Erdoğan before he was jailed. He ran in the presidential elections of 2014 and 2018 as a rival to Erdoğan. Demirtaş conducted his election campaign from jail for the 2018 election.

Erdoğan ad his government have accused of Demirtaş of being a “terrorist” due to his alleged links to the PKK and has slammed calls for his release.

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