Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş appeared before judge today (January 12) for the first time as part of the trial in which he is tried on charge of “insulting president”.
İstanbul Bakırköy 38th Criminal Court of First Instance had ruled for Demirtaş to attend the hearing in person.
Police barricade outside of the courtroom
There were police barricades and riot control vehicles in front of Bakırköy Courthouse.
A large number of people gathered in front of the courthouse ahead of the hearing. Other than family members, MPs, lawyer and press members are not allowed inside.
Two of President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s lawyers are standing ready in the courtroom as well.
Demirtaş is making his statement of defense
In his statement of defense, Demirtaş briefly said:
“Even though I have been tried as defendant in the hearing, I prepared my statement of defense under arrest. This is open violation of fair trial. I get the chance to appear before judge for the first time in 14 months in more than 20 legal suits brought against me. 97 hearings were held about me. All those hearings were held in my absentia or Audio and Visual Information System (SEGBIS) was enforced on me.
“In order for an MP to be tried, his or her parliamentary immunity must be duly lifted. If our immunity is lifted without a parliamentary decision, then it is not duly lifted.
“The parliamentary immunity exists so that we won’t be bothered with such freak, sloppy accusations”.
Court renders interim decision
The chief judge decided to evaluate the demands and for this reason ruled for both sides to be given extra time for them to present their written statements.
In its interim decision, the court ruled the defendants’ statements concerning the indictment be send to the Constitutional Court for detailed examination.
International representatives are watching
Attaché of German Consulate Onur Yel wasn’t allowed to enter the courtroom. Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu as well as HDP MPs entered courtroom.
Police tried to intervene Freedom and Solidarity Party (ÖDP) Chair Alper Taş who tried to pass the barricades outside of the courthouse. Taş passed the barricades with lawyers stepping in.
Press members were let inside the courtroom. Selahattin Demirtaş’s wife Başak Demirtaş was in the courtroom as well. Among those who watched the hearing are HDP Co-Chair Serpil Kemalbay, HDP MPs Filiz Kerestecioğlu, Nihat Akdoğan, Garo Paylan, Mizgin Irgat, Saadet Becerikli, Celal Doğan, Hüda Kaya, Mehmet Emin Adıyaman, Pervin Buldan, Ahmet Yıldırım, Mahmut Toğrul, Ayşe Acar Başaran, Dilan Dirayet Taşdemir, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Mahmut Celadet Gaydalı and Mahmut Nadir Yıldırım, CHP MPs Hilmi Yarayıcı ve Sezgin Tanrıkulu, ÖDP Chair Alper Taş, Laborer Movement Party (EHP) Chair Sibel Uzun, People’s Communist Party of Turkey (HTKP) Chair Erkan Baş, Demirtaş's family, Consul General of Switzerland Therese Hyden, Nathalie Marti from Consulate of Switzerland, Consul General of Canada Ulric Shannon, Ambassador of Norway, Consul General of Denmark Jesper Kamp, Danish Consulate officials and a large number of consulate officials.
Demirtaş is tried due to his statement at the airport
Demirtaş is tried for the following statements he issued on December 24, 2015 at Atatürk Airport in İstanbul on his return from his visit to Russia:
"In fact, the people in Turkey don't want war with Russia or any country. This is a tension that came into existence because of AKP (Justice and Development Party) government's wrong decision. President and Prime Minister had stated that it was a mistake before we did. They cannot cover up their own mistakes with rhetoric such as 'They betrayed the country, they betrayed the nation'. They are trying to cover up their own mistakes through us. I am calling on Mr. Prime Minister Davutoğlu; do not say things that you will eat in the future".
The cases brought following this statement on charges of "insulting Prime Minister" and "inciting people to enmity and hostility" dropped. Another case brought following the same statement was "insulting president".
Demirtaş was sentenced to pay fine of 15 thousand liras (3,300 Euros) to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to his statements he made in Mersin on February 27, 2016.
Demirtaş has been imprisoned in Edirne Type F Prison since November 4, 2016. In addition to Demirtaş, nine HDP MPs including Figen Yüksekdağ who was relieved of her MP duties and Nursel Aydoğan are behind bars as well.
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