World Media

Trial on terror charges of pro-Kurdish Party leader starts in Turkey

Trial on terror charges of pro-Kurdish Party leader starts in Turkey

The case was to be held within the city of Ankara itself but was moved to the Sincan prison complex outside the capital, two days before the trial, because of security concerns. "Demirtas is our honour", they chanted.

The MP is being held in prison in the northwestern region of Edirne.

The HDP co-chair is accused of a "leading a terrorist organization", "inciting hate and crime in public" and "campaigning for a terrorist organization". The HDP said 1,250 lawyers sought to defend Demirtas.

The trial on terrorism charges of Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party, began in Ankara on Thursday, without the defendant in the courtroom.

"Holding the leader of a major opposition party in pre-trial detention for over a year on flimsy charges is another example of the political abuse of the criminal justice system we are repeatedly seeing in Turkey", said Hugh Williamson, Human Rights Watch's director for Europe and Central Asia.

The violence led to more than 30 deaths.

HDP says it is independent.

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Further infuriating the HDP, the computer which contained Demirtas' defence was stolen in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir.

Various intellectuals including Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Zizek have signed a letter along with eight MPs from HDP calling for the "immediate release" of Demirtas.

While in custody, former human rights lawyer Demirtas has written poetry, produced artwork, tweeted through a third party and even written a selection of short stories entitled "Seher" ("Dawn" in Turkish).

Publisher Dipnot said it had printed 155,000 copies and that the book was now in its 15th print run.

The arrests follow the collapse of a fragile peace process between the state and the PKK in 2015.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK launched its insurgency against Turkey in 1984.

A former human rights lawyer, Demirtas was arrested on November 4 last year, one of more than a dozen HDP lawmakers who were arrested in a crackdown following last year's attempted coup.


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