The European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling calling on Turkey to release Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who has been in prison for over two years on terrorism charges, is not legal but a politically-motivated one, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Chavushoghlu has said, vowing the Turkish government will object to the decision.
“The EHCR has issued a ruling motivated by politics. It’s also inconsistent with the court’s earlier verdict which affirmed that the detention [of Demirtaş] was based on reasonable suspicion. If he is detained on a reasonable suspicion, then it should be recognized that the length of the detention and whether it’s going to be extended or not will be decided by a Turkish court,” Chavushoghlu told broadcaster CNNTürk in an interview on November 23, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
In a verdict announced earlier this week, the Strasbourg-based court said Demirtaş had been arrested on “reasonable suspicion” of committing a crime, but said the reasons given for keeping him behind bars were not “sufficient” and constituted “an unjustified interference with the free expression of the opinion of the people.”
It found that the extension of his detention, particularly during a referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s powers and later a presidential election, were aimed at “stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate, which was at the very core of the concept of a democratic society.