After 464 days of imprisonment, HDP co-chair Demirtas's first appearance in court

by The Region   Getty Images  


The jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas is expected to appear before the court on Jan. 12 for the first time since his arrest.

Demirtas, who is currently in prison in the western province of Edirne, will stand trial on Jan. 12 for charges of “insulting the president,” with the comments he made towards Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Dec. 24, 2015, at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport on his way home from Russia.

A previous ruling handed down by the Bakırkoy 38th Criminal Court of First Instance in Istanbul had ruled for Demirtas to attend the hearing in person on Jan. 12, first time after 464 days of imprisonment.

Demirtas has been imprisoned since Nov. 4, 2016, in the Edirne F-type prison on charges of terrorism for which the prosecutor is seeking up to 142 years of imprisonment. The first hearing for his case took place on Dec. 7, 2017, but again in his absence. 

Demirtas was detained with 11 other HDP lawmakers in November 2016 as part of an investigation into supporting terrorism and Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"Despite the government-based dirty propaganda and baseless, lawless and immoral accusations and attacks against us, we are neither separatist, nor terrorist," Demirtas said in the letter.

The HDP co-chair refused to link to the courtroom via an audiovisual system after the court board had cited security reasons for not bringing him to the court in person. As a result, he was absent from the hearing.

The court ruled for Demirtas to remain in prison until the next hearing for his trial on Feb. 14.

On his hearing, only around 15 journalists are allowed to be present.

The rest are family members, lawyers, MPs and the international delegation from around 10 different countries.

A crowd of more than thousand gathered to show support for Demirtas outside the court in Istanbul. They joined hands and danced around small fires, singing songs in Kurdish. “Demirtas is our honour,” they chanted.

The HDP is the third-largest party in Turkey’s parliament. The party’s other co-leader, Figen Yuksekdag, also jailed pending trial on terrorism charges, was remanded in custody by an Ankara court.