Turkish prosecutor seeks up to 142 years in jail for Kurdish leader

18.01.2017

A Turkish prosecutor is seeking up to 142 years behind bars for Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the third-largest party in parliament, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday.

Demirtas' co-leader, Figen Yuksekdag, faces up to 83 years, according to the indictment. Both are already in jail, along with nine other members of parliament from the HDP.

Arrests of the party's top leaders started in November in late night raids. The government has also taken over HDP municipalities in the mostly-Kurdish south-east and replaced the mayors with loyalists. There is no sign of early fresh elections.

Demirtas is accused of spreading terrorist propaganda, among other charges. The HDP says it is being targeted over its opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is seeking to expand his powers. 

More than 2,700 members of HDP and its sister organisations have been detained or arrested since 2015, when a ceasefire and peace process broke down between the state and the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), reigniting violence.

The HDP denies the government's claims that it is a wing of the PKK, which Turkey deems a terrorist organisation.

The government says it will not return to talks with the PKK, a group that has been fighting for greater rights for the Kurdish minority in Turkey for more than 30 years. Kurds often complain of systemic discrimination by the state.

Nursel Aydogan, an HDP legislator, was sentenced last week to more than four years in jail.    (dpa)

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