Turkish court orders re-arrest of jailed Selahattin Demirtas

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Turkish court orders re-arrest of jailed Selahattin Demirtas

A Turkish court has blocked the release of the imprisoned former leader of a pro-Kurdish party after prosecutors requested his arrest once again over a fresh investigation on “terrorism” charges, according to state media.

Selahattin Demirtas, one of Turkey‘s most prominent politicians, has been in jail for almost three years and faces several other legal cases, mainly on “terrorism” charges, which he denies.

If found guilty in the main case against him, he faces up to 142 years in prison.

Earlier this month, a Turkish court ruled that he should be freed pending trial as the process continues. On Friday, Demirtas’s lawyers applied for his release on parole, according to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

But the HDP said that prosecutors then launched a new investigation into him and the other former coleader of the party, Figen Yuksekdag, and requested their arrest once again before they could be freed.

On Saturday morning, state-run Anadolu Agency confirmed that a court in the capital, Ankara, ordered the rearrest of the two former leaders, following the prosecutor’s request. 

In an emailed statement sent to Al Jazeera, the HDP called the move “a political conspiracy” ordered by the Turkish government seeking “political revenge”.

The HDP called the decision to rearrest Demirtas and Yuksekdag “legal bullying” and “massacring of the principles of universal law”.

The prosecutor’s office in Ankara was not immediately available for comment.

Crackdown

The independence of Turkey’s judiciary has been hotly debated in recent years, especially since a crackdown on the judiciary and other state bodies following an abortive coup in July 2016 and after the country switched to an executive presidential system in June last year.

“There is no judiciary, no justice, no law, no judges. Not just for us, for none of you,” Demirtas said earlier on Twitter, announcing that the new investigation had been launched.

Almost three years after the failed coup, tens of thousands of people have been jailed pending trial, while civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs.

Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticised the scope of the crackdown, saying President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used the abortive coup as a pretext to quash dissent.

The government has said the security measures are necessary due to the gravity of the threat faced by Turkey.

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