The opposition leader is sentenced to 42 years in prison in Turkey

2024-05-18 12:41:45 / BOTA ALFA PRESS

The opposition leader is sentenced to 42 years in prison in Turkey
A Turkish court has sentenced pro-Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas to 42 years in prison for his role in fueling deadly protests over the conflict in Syria. More than a dozen political allies of Demirtas were also jailed.

Demirtas was convicted of a total of 47 charges, Turkish media reported, including conspiracy, inciting violence, disrupting state unity and engaging in propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization. At the age of 51, Demirtas is likely to die in prison if his efforts to appeal the sentence are unsuccessful.

Demirtas was one of 108 people accused in the so-called Kobani Trial. The case centered on the Syrian city of Kobane, where Kurdish militants and Islamic State (IS) jihadists were fighting for control of the city in 2014. Demirtas accused Turkish troops - who were exchanging cross-border fire with the Kurds at the time - of standing in area while the Islamic State ((IS) surrounded the city and to stop the Kurds from fleeing).

As leader of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), Demirtas called for protests in the Kurdish-majority regions of southern Turkey. The demonstrations quickly turned violent and left 37 dead and hundreds injured. Two months before the protests, Demirtas had finished third in Turkey's presidential election. He went on to challenge President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again for the presidency in 2018, campaigning from behind bars.

Of the 108 people accused of orchestrating or participating in the protests, 18 were jailed on Thursday. Charges were dropped against 12 others, while 18 were released pending further court dates and 72 remain wanted. Former HDP co-chair Figen Yuksekdag was sentenced to 32 years in prison on charges similar to those brought against Demirtas.

Testifying last year, Demirtas described the case as "political revenge" and his alleged accomplices as "political hostages." The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly requested his release.

Ankara, on the other hand, sees the HDP as a wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Turkey, the US and the EU all consider a terrorist organization. The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since the 1980s, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

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