UPDATE -Turkey: 3+ years in prison for ex-opposition party head


By Melike Gallenkus

ISTANBUL (AA) – A former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HPD) was sentenced to three-and-half years in prison on Monday for insulting the Turkish president.

Selahattin Demirtas, who attended the hearing at Istanbul’s Bakirkoy 46th Criminal Court of First Instance via video link, incurred the sentence for publicly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to the prosecutor’s indictment, on Dec. 24, 2015 “Demirtas made statements at [Istanbul’s] Ataturk Airport to the press targeting then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

Demirtas’s statements exceeded the limits of opinion, explanation, or criticism, and so are not covered by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of expression, it stressed.

The court sentenced Demirtas to three years in prison for insulting the president, with six months added as the offense was committed publicly.

In November 2016, Demirtas – former co-leader of the HDP, a party Turkey has said is linked to the terrorist PKK – along with 12 HDP lawmakers were arrested on terrorism-related charges.

He was sentenced in September 2018 to four years and eight months in prison for spreading terrorist propaganda, terrorist group leadership, and public incitement to hatred and hostility.

Last week, Turkey’s top prosecutor filed a case seeking to shut down the HDP, calling it an undemocratic party that colludes with the PKK terrorist group and seeks to destroy the unity of the state.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin