The main trial of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas, accused of “terrorist” activities, opened near Ankara on Thursday, more than a year after his arrest, a senior official told AFP of his party.
The hearing “started” at the Sincan prison complex in Ankara province, said the leader of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
Demirtas, who co-directs the training, is accused of leading a “terrorist organization”, “terrorist propaganda” and “incitement to commit crimes”. He faces up to 142 years in prison.
The Turkish government accuses him of links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization classified as “terrorist” by Ankara and its Western allies.
However, the HDP rejects these accusations and claims that this so-called “political” trial aims to oust one of the fiercest opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Several hundred people gathered Thursday morning in court where the trial is taking place to show their support for Mr. Demirtas, according to an AFP journalist.
“The only crime of Demirtas is to have been the opponent of Erdogan,” said a protester to AFP, while other people held placards addressing messages of defiance: “The pressure is not we will not be intimidated, “” The HDP is hope, and hope is still standing. ”
Mr Demirtas, who has been held in a prison in Edirne (north-west) since his arrest in November 2016, was not present at the hearing, the HDP official told AFP.
The HDP is the second opposition party in Parliament, but in addition to Demirtas, a dozen of its deputies have been arrested and others stripped of their mandate in the aftermath of the purges launched after the coup attempt of 15 July 2016.