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Iran Press TV

Turkey indicts senior Kurdish leader, rebuffs EU demands

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 07 January 2021 7:05 PM

A Turkish court has accepted an indictment against the co-head of the country's pro-Kurdish opposition party, rejecting demands by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for his release.

State-owned Anadolu agency reported that an indictment calling for 38 counts of life sentences without parole against 108 defendants, including Selahattin Demirtas, was accepted by an Ankara court on Thursday.

According to Turkish media reports, of the defendants, 27 were jailed pending trial, 75 had arrest warrants against them and six were detained then released with judicial measures.

The indictment against Demirtas, a former co-leader of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and presidential candidate, is related to October 2014 protests in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

Thirty-seven people died in clashes during the protests, which erupted over accusations that the Turkish military stood by as the Daesh terrorist group besieged the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, in plain view just across the Turkish border.

Demirtas has faced several trials on different charges. In 2017, Turkish prosecutors called for him an imprisonment term of up to 142 years.

Last month, the ECHR called for Demirtas' release who has been held in custody for more than four years, saying that his continued detention would amount to a "prolongation of the violation of his rights."

President Tayyip Erdogan accused the ECHR of hypocrisy after the ruling, saying Demirtas was a terrorist responsible for the deaths of dozens of people.

Turkish authorities said the outlawed militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) incited the protests and that the HDP supported them.

Turkey has declared the PKK a terrorist organization and has banned it. The militant group has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

HDP leaders, who deny links to the PKK, have accused Ankara of supporting Daesh in neighboring Syria.

Militants backed by Turkey were also deployed to northeastern Syria in October 2019, when the Turkish military launched a cross-border invasion in a declared attempt to push the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas. Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown PKK.

In recent years, Ankara has jailed dozens of mayors and other officials from the HDP, which is the third largest party in the Turkish parliament.

They deny the charges, saying they are victims of a crackdown by the government, which was launched after a failed coup more than four years ago.

Thousands of people have been jailed over alleged links to the July 15, 2016 coup or other terrorism-related charges.

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