News ID: 203759
Published: 0558 GMT November 04, 2017

Turkish court sentences opposition HDP lawmaker to 10 years in jail

Turkish court sentences opposition HDP lawmaker to 10 years in jail

A court in Turkey has sentenced a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to ten years in prison on charges of membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group and spreading propaganda as the Ankara government presses ahead with a clampdown on members of the opposition party.

The Diyarbakir 5th High Criminal Court found the defendant, Selma Irmak, guilty of “leading an armed terrorist organization” and “carrying out propaganda activities for terrorist purposes,” Turkish-language NTV television news channel reported on Saturday.

The court said that Irmak was sentenced to 7 years and 6 months in prison over PKK membership, and 2 years and 6 months for promoting its policies.

Her defense lawyer, Erkan Ürküt, denied the charges and demanded his client’s immediate release. He stressed that Irmak was innocent.

The prosecutor had initially sought a 52.5-year jail sentence for the pro-Kurdish legislator.

On December 26, 2016, Turkish security forces arrested Aysel Tugluk, a senior official of the HDP, in the capital Ankara, as part of an investigation launched by the Diyarbakir Chief Public Prosecutor's Office against the PKK and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an alliance of pro-Kurdish groups.

In November last year, 13 HDP legislators were arrested over alleged links to the PKK.

Party leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag remain in custody along with eight others, pending trial on terrorism-related charges.

On January 18 this year, Turkish prosecutors announced they were seeking a 142-year prison sentence for Demirtas.

A shaky ceasefire between the PKK, which has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984, and the Turkish government collapsed in July 2015. Attacks on Turkish security forces have soared ever since.

Turkish ground and air forces have been carrying out operations against the PKK positions in the country’s troubled southeastern border region as well as Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region and northern Syria.

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