A Turkish appeals court has upheld the “terror propaganda” conviction of a former co-leader and presidential candidate of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday the appeals court in Istanbul had unanimously voted to finalise a September verdict against Selahattin Demirtas.
The former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairperson was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison last September for a 2013 speech the court deemed was in support of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Demirtas, along with several other former HDP members of parliament, has been in jail for more than two years on the charge of having links to the PKK, which has been fighting the Turkish army for more autonomy since the 1980s.
The Kurdish politician and others were arrested after their immunity as MPs was lifted in 2016.
Demirtas denies the charges. His trial began in December last year and he faces up to 142 years in prison.
Last month, the European Court of Human Rights said Turkey violated Demirtas’ rights to a speedy trial and ordered that he be freed after more than two years of pre-trial detention.
The judgment added that his imprisonment interfered with his right to freedom of expression as he could not take part in parliamentary activities as an elected MP.
Hours after the ECHR’s November 20 ruling, Demirtas’ lawyers applied for his immediate release, saying keeping the politician in jail would amount to a “restriction on freedom”.
The application was rejected by a Turkish court in the capital Ankara 10 days later.
The Istanbul court on Tuesday also upheld the conviction and prison sentence of Sirri Sureyya Onder, a former HDP member of parliament. Onder was sentenced to three years and six months in prison, also on “terror propaganda” charges.