Ankara court sentences Selahattin Demirtaş to two and a half years

Statement by HDP’s Co-spokespersons for Foreign Affairs Feleknas Uca & Hişyar Özsoy

Turkish government continues to suppress HDP politicians by means of the judiciary, which is under its full control. Prosecution of the Kobane case, which is a politically motivated legal case designed to destroy the HDP, started on 26 April and is continuing, but, meanwhile, the HDP’s former co-chair Mr. Selahattin Demirtaş faces a new prison sentence.

On 28 May, Mr. Demirtaş was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by the Ankara 25th Assize Court for his remarks about former Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor, Yüksel Kocaman, who was appointed to the Court of Cassation in November 2020. Mr. Demirtaş was accused of “targeting a public official serving in counterterrorism office.” The case concerned Demirtaş’s remarks during a court hearing that took place in January 2020. He stated that Kocaman, who was at the time the prosecutor dealing with the Kobane investigation, would be accountable in the future for his actions. Demirtaş’s statement on Kocaman in that hearing is as follows: “Yüksel Kocaman, there is Allah who is greater than the [Presidential] Palace in which you trust. The wheel is going to turn, and when elections happen, you will be laughing on the other side of your face. You will give an account of all this before the judiciary.” As Demirtaş’s lawyer stated regarding this recent sentence, the proceedings were not objective, because Kocaman had also been the prosecutor dealing with the politician’s case. Yet, the court handed down a two-year-and-sixmonth prison sentence for Mr. Demirtaş and did not go for a reduction in his sentence on the grounds of “the crime’s manner of being committed and its intention and severity.”

Mr. Demirtaş had already received a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence earlier this year with the charge of “insulting the President,” and was convicted of “making terrorist propaganda” in 2018 for a speech he made during Newroz celebrations in Istanbul in March 2013. Although the judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) asked the Turkish authorities to immediately release Mr. Demirtaş and acquit him of all charges, he continues to receive prison sentences in different court cases.

Unable to manage or resolve the multiple and deepening crises in the country, the government is more frequently and aggressively using the judiciary to silence the HDP and the democratic opposition. Such unlawful prison sentences and trials of HDP politicians will only further deepen the multiple crises of the government and the political system.