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article imageEuropean court urges Turkey to free pro-Kurdish leader

By AFP     Nov 20, 2018 in World

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday called on Turkey to release pro-Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas, saying his detention since 2016 on terror charges was aimed at "stifling pluralism".

Demirtas, one of two former co-leaders of the leftist pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), was arrested in November 2016 over his alleged links to Kurdish militants.

At the time of his arrest he was a member of parliament.

The court in the French city of Strasbourg said it accepted that Demirtas 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 Erdogan'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".

"The court therefore held, unanimously, that the respondent state was to take all necessary measures to put an end to the applicant’s pre-trial detention," it added.

The ECHR hears cases of alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights of which Turkey is a signatory.

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