European Court of Human Rights holds hearing on Demirtas imprisonment

A supporter of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party holds a mask of their jailed former leader and presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas during a rally in Ankara, Turkey. Reuters

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SULAIMANI — The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held a hearing on Wednesday (September 18) about the case of imprisoned former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, who has been behind bars at Silivri Prison in Istanbul since 2016.

On November 20, 2018, the ECtHR concluded that Demirtas' rights were violated under the European Convention on Human Rights and unanimously held that he should be released from pre-trial detention “at the earliest possible date.”

The move was blocked, however, by a Turkish court.

During Wednesday's hearing, the court will hear statements from both Demirtas' lawyers as well  and representatives of the Turkish justice ministry regarding the ECtHR's earlier ruling. The court is not expected to release its findings for some months.

The hearing is being attended by Demirtas' wife Basak, HDP Co-Chair Sezai Temelli, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur Kati Piri.

On September 2, the Ankara 19th Heavy Penal Court ruled that Demirtas' should be released from prison, but remains in custody on the basis of other convictions. Last week, his lawyers filed a motion for him to be released.

Ankara accuses the HDP of ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, and Turkey, according to Reuters.

The HDP denies such links.

(NRT Digital Media)