Imprisoned HDP co-leader Demirtas ‘prone to criminality’, says Turkish court

HDP Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas

A Turkish court which handed Turkey’s imprisoned opposition HDP co-leader Selahattin Demirtas a five-month prison sentence last month for ‘insulting the government’ has said that his sentence will not be suspended as he is ‘prone to criminal behaviour’.

In its detailed ruling for Demirtas’ sentencing, the court stated, “The defendant’s description of an elected legitimate government’s policies and actions as ‘government terror’ exceeds the boundaries of freedom of expression and the right to parliamentary criticism.”

“The defendant’s many ongoing trials and his criminal record with the police show that he is prone to criminal behaviour, and the additional fact that he has showed no remorse for his actions have led us to decide that his sentence not be suspended,” the ruling explained.

All the charges brought against the opposition politician are in reference to speeches he has made while holding public office. The immunities of a number of HDP politicians was lifted by the government last year, opening the path for all legal cases filed against them to be tried by the courts.

Selahattin Demirtas was arrested on 4 November last year along with HDP co-leader Figen Yuksekdag. The co-leaders of the opposition People’s Democratic Party are facing up to a total of 142 and 83 years in prison respectively.