Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Turkish court sentences president of BDP to 10-month imprisonment

28 September 2010

Demirtas tried for 'disseminating propaganda'

Diyarbakir Heavy Criminal Court Nr.5 sentenced co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Selhattin Demirtas to 10-month imprisonment on account of "disseminating propaganda for the Kurdistan Workers' Party". The punishment came in a period while dialog and peace demands are raising and the government officials started meeting BDP.

The case was launched because of Selahhating Demirtas speech on Kurdish satellite channel in which he was criticising the state officials for the prison conditions of the imprisoned leader of Abdullah Ocalan. Demirtas was the president of the Diyarbakir Branch of Human Rights Association in Turkey (IHD) at the time.

While the hearing was held in Selahhatin Demirtas's absence his lawyer Meral Danis stated that the said speech falls within the scope of the freedom of expression. However, the court considered the press release organised by the Diyarbakir Democracy Platfrom for the same topic and Selhattin Demirtas read out the statement as the platform spokesperson sentenced him to one-year imprisonment. The court then reduced the imprisonment to 10-month. As a result of the punishment Selahattin Demirtas will be observed whether he commits the same crime.

While he was still the chair of IHD Diyarbakir office before he was elected to parliament in 2007 Demirtas was also punished for "praising crime and criminal" a year and 6 month imprisonment over a speech he made on Roj TV through telephone. However, the court of appeals over ruled the punishment and send the case back to the local court in order to be handled within the scope of the anti-terror law rather than penal code. After Demirtas was elected to the parliament the process continued despite the parliamentary immunity on account of being charged for terror crimes.