Jailed Kurdish leader’s wife sentenced to prison for ‘counterfactual’ health report

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Başak Demirtaş, the wife of jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş, has been handed down a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years for “obtaining a health report that is contrary to the facts,” local media reported on Thursday.

The development was announced by Demirtaş’s lawyers, who on Thursday said in a written statement that the sentence was ordered on Wednesday by the Diyarbakır 6th High Criminal Court as part of a case launched against her on March 3, 2018.

They added that a doctor identified by the initials R.B. who had issued the report was also given the same sentence as part of a court ruling that was a result of an “understanding of collective punishment.”

Demirtaş obtained a health report to present to the school where she was working as a teacher after the surgeries she had undergone in 2015, and the date on the report was miswritten by a staff member of a healthcare center in Diyarbakır, the lawyers explained.

Although she received treatment on December 11, 2015, the date on the report that was issued for her and that she presented to the school said her treatment was on December 14, 2015.

“In order for this error to be revealed, it is sufficient to examine the register of the healthcare center. We will continue our legal fight. We remain confident that the decision will be overturned by the regional court of justice and that justice will be served,” they said.

The sentence comes a week after Demirtaş posted a video on social media giving messages of hope for her husband, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who has been behind bars since Nov. 4, 2016 on terrorism-related charges.

“Exactly five years have passed since Selahattin and his friends were taken out of their homes, unlawfully. We’re entering the sixth year. … Despite everything, we have never lost hope over the last five years. Neither our will nor our faith was broken. We know that justice, freedom and equality aren’t far away,” she said in the video released on Twitter.

The Kurdish leader has remained in prison for five years despite two European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings in 2018 and 2020 that said he was imprisoned for “political” and not “legal” reasons, ordering his “immediate release.” The Council of Europe also called on Turkey to immediately release the Kurdish politician on Sept. 17, 2021.

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