‘Nothing new’ in Turkey’s response to CoE Committee of Ministers about Demirtaş

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe had given time to Turkey until September 30 for submitting an action plan regarding a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling for Selahattin Demirtaş’s release. It published Turkey’s action plan on its official website yesterday (October 8).

Turkey stated that the court may release Demirtaş on probation on November 3. If this does not happen, Demirtaş will be in prison until January 3, 2023, when he completes his sentence.

The former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has been in prison since October 2016. He hasn’t been released depiste ECtHR and Constitutional Court verdicts.

Other cases against Demirtaş

The action plan showed that the government’s main augment about Demirtaş’s situation did not change, Demirtaş’s attorney Benan Molu told bianet.

“The action plan stresses both the second arrest of Demirtaş in the case continuing at the Ankara 22nd Heavy Penal Court and the 4 years and 8 months of prison sentence for his Newroz speech in 2013, which was upheld by the Court of Cassation and became final, and states that he is currently convicted.

“The government asserts that both two files are not within the scope of the ECtHR Grand Chamber decision and are separate legal proceedings. In other words, it defends the argument that he is arrested in one case and convicted in another case and he is not within the scope of the case where a verdict of release was given.”

“Immediate release”

The Committee of Ministers had previously evaluated this argument, said Molu.

“In its decision, the Committee of Ministers had already requested the overturn of the sentence in the case (currently pending at the Constitutional Court) where he was convicted.

“The committee had also demanded that the investigations and prosecutions opened against Demirtaş for his speeches within freedom of political expression be lifted or that he be acquitted.

“As his attorneys, we notified this decision to all the courts but no steps have been taken yet.”

The basis of the argument

Bolu further noted that the both cases that the government’s argument was based on were already mentioned in the ECtHR Grand Chamber decision.

“The ECtHR had already evaluated that these cases had been opened because of statements within freedom of expression and that they were decisions to prevent his release,” said the attorney.

“Therefore, the government’S argument is not correct,” he said. “The purpose is to keep Demirtaş in prison and prevent his candidacy in the next election.”

Demirtaş’s lawyers will also report against this action plan. At the first meeting of the Committee to be held between November 30 and December 2, it is expected to evaluate all the responses and announce a decision.

Trial of Selahattin Demirtaş
Selahattin Demirtaş was detained on November 4, 2016. He was arrested and sent to Silivri Prison in İstanbul on the same day. He is still behind bars in Silivri.
All his investigations, except for one, have been combined in a single file. The lawsuit filed at the Ankara 19th Heavy Penal Court has still not been concluded. As his request for release as part of this suit was rejected, his attorneys appealed to the Constitutional Court.
In their application to the Constitutional Court on May 29, 2018, the attorneys requested that his application be reviewed with priority. However, the Court has not yet responded to the application. On June 26, 2018, his case was taken to the ECtHR.
Shortly after this appeal to the ECtHR, the court announced its judgment in his second case. Tried in the case together with former HDP MP Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Selahattin Demirtaş has been sentenced to 4 years, 8 months in prison on the charge of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization” by the İstanbul 26th Heavy Penal Court.
One month later, on October 25, 2018, his verdict of conviction reached the 2nd Penal Chamber of İstanbul Regional Court of Justice, the court of appeal.
On November 17, 2018, the ECtHR announced that it would announce its judgment as to his application on November 20. The court of appeal swiftly reviewed the verdict of conviction of Demirtaş and started discussing it on November 19.On November 20, 2018, the ECtHR concluded that Demirtaş was “arrested with political motivations” and ruled for his release.
The Ankara 19th Heavy Penal Court rejected his request for release on November 30, 2018, indicating that “his arrest was a moderate measure”.
On December 4, 2018, the 2nd Penal Chamber of İstanbul Regional Court of Justice upheld his verdict of conviction. With this verdict, Demirtaş became an arrested convict.
The attorneys of Demirtaş appealed again to the ECtHR on February 19, 2019, and requested that the issues not discussed, found inadmissible and not regarded as violation right be reviewed again.
The government also appealed against the ECtHR verdict on Demirtaş. In its petition, the government also requested that the ECtHR review its ruling of right violation again. That being the case, the case of Demirtaş has been taken to the ECtHR Grand Chamber, which announced that it would discuss the application on September 18, 2019.
The Ankara 19th Heavy Penal Court on September 2 ruled that Demirtaş should be released. His imrpisonment continued because of a separate verdict for hs arrest.
On December 22, 2020, the ECtHR Grand Chamber ruled for the immediate release of Demirtaş.
On September 17, 2021, The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the ECtHR rulings, stated that Demirtaş should be released and gave time to Turkey until September 30 to announce an action plan about the European court ruling.

Source: bianet.org