Jailed former HDP co-chair Demirtaş demands his case be dropped, citing political motivation

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The jailed former co-chair of Turkey’s Kurdish-issue focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş, has said the case against him should be dropped, citing political motivation.

His comments came on Feb. 14 during a hearing of his trial at the Ankara 19th Criminal Court, where he stands accused of various terror-related charges.

Referring to previous jailed political leaders in Turkey’s history, he said: “They were all put on trial at political courts because of political motives. Those courts could on no account act independently. As a matter of fact, to prevent them acting independently individuals with close ties to the government were appointed to the courts. And now, as deputies of another political party, we are on trial under the state of emergency conditions.”

Demirtaş told the court that his arrest was linked to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push to change the constitution to create an executive presidency. As a parliamentary deputy with legal immunity, he should not have been on trial, he added.

The constitutional immunity from prosecution for lawmakers was lifted after a vote in May 2016, and Demirtaş was arrested in November 2016.

German Ambassador to Turkey Martin Edelman and a number of envoys from other countries were not allowed to enter the Sincan courtroom to follow the trial, according to the German embassy’s Twitter messages sent on Feb. 14.

Former co-leader Kemalbay detained

Meanwhile, former HDP co-chair Serpil Kemalbay was detained in the capital Ankara on Feb. 13 for allegedly “spreading terrorist propaganda” during a party congress, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

On Feb. 12, HDP co-chair Pervin Buldan and HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder faced legal scrutiny and charges for allegedly making terrorist propaganda at the same event the previous day.

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