A court in the Turkish capital Ankara on Dec. 7 started hearing the case of jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who was absent from the first hearing.
The Ankara 19th Criminal Court held the first hearing in the case, 399 days after Demirtaş was arrested.
It later ruled that Demirtaş remains in prison until the next hearing in his trial on Feb. 14.
The Kurdish issue-focused HDP co-chair was absent from the case as he refused to link to the court room via an audiovisual system, after the court board cited security reasons for not bringing him to the court in person.
The court also refused to allow most international and local observers to attend the hearing, again citing “security concerns.” Only a dozen of visitors and journalists were allowed into the court.
Demirtaş’s lawyer Yusuf Alataş told the Hürriyet Daily News that the case “is a collection of 31 different summaries of proceedings that have been compiled into a joint case.”
“The main accusation is that he is the leader of an armed organisation, which is a terror offence. All of the proceedings subjected to this case are about Demirtaş’s speeches that he delivered as a politician. None of them contain any call for violence or an act of violence,” Alataş said.
The HDP co-chair was arrested on Nov. 4, 2016, along with 10 other HDP deputies.
The indictment, prepared in February 2017, accused him of “leading a terrorist organization,” “inciting hate and crime in public” and “campaigning for a terrorist organization,” demanding between 42 years and 142 years in jail.
HDP Batman lawmaker Ayşe Acar Başaran said countless proceedings have been issued against HDP lawmakers over the past year, arguing that “the court cases are all politically motivated.”
“They only confirm the political power’s decisions against us through the hands of courts, nothing more,” Başaran said.
“Summaries proceedings are used as a means to threaten. They try to make us illegal by creating a particular perception,” she added.
In the preliminary assessment at the hearing, before Demirtaş’s lawyers started delivering their first speeches, the prosecutor demanded a continuation of the HDP co-chair’s imprisonment during the trial process.
The prosecutor stated that there is a “strong suspicion that he committed the crime of leading a terrorist organization and the nature of this crime necessitates his imprisonment throughout the trial.”