Ankara likely to use new charges to keep HDP co-chairs behind bars

As the former leaders of Turkey’s majority-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) approach their third anniversary behind bars, the multiplicity of cases against them are becoming increasingly convoluted.

Former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag were originally taken into custody for terror-related charges on Nov. 4, 2016, along with nine HDP lawmakers.

The pair has since been held in pretrial detention as dozens of court proceedings have been opened, most of which stem from past speeches that have drawn charges of “making propaganda for an armed terrorist group” and “membership of an armed terrorist group,” alleging illicit support of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group that has been at war with the Turkish state since the 1980s.

Despite assessments by a Turkish court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) supporting the release of Demirtas — a ruling that could eventually be applied to Yuksekdag — the former HDP leaders are likely to remain behind bars in pretrial detention due to the expansion of a new terror-related investigation on Friday. Lawyers representing the HDP leaders said the move was a way to adhere to the ECHR ruling in Demirtas’ main case while keeping both Demirtas and Yuksekdag imprisoned on separate charges.

Demirtas’ lawyers Aygul Demirtas, Mehmet Emin Aktar and Mahsuni Karaman complained in a joint statement Monday of an “attempt to make Demirtas’ captivity permanent by applying these illegal methods.”

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