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article imageTurkish prosecutors open probe against Kurdish leader Demirtas

By AFP     Jul 30, 2015 in World

Turkish prosecutors on Thursday opened a probe against the leader of Turkey's main Kurdish party over bloody October 2014 protests, the official Anatolia news agency reported.

Prosecutors in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir have started an investigation against Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas for inciting people to take up arms during the protests that left dozens dead, the agency said.

If the case comes to court, he could face up to 24 years in jail, it added.

The investigation comes as Turkey presses on with a military campaign against the Kurdish militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.

Should the investigation conclude that Demirtas should be charged, prosecutors will ask that his parliamentary immunity be removed, the report said.

The news comes hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a fierce personal attack on Demirtas, telling him to "know his place" and referring to the presence of his elder brother Nurettin among the PKK fighters in Iraq.

"He would run there (too) if he found the opportunity," Erdogan said on a visit to China.

This is the first such probe to be opened against Demirtas, whose party upset the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with a strong performance in June 7 elections.

The probe refers to a statement made by the executive committee of the HDP on October 6, 2014, urging its supporters to take to the streets to protest the policies of the Turkish government in Syria.

According to the official toll, 35 people including two police were killed in three days of rioting across the country.

The demonstrations were over the fate of the mainly Kurdish Syrian town of Kobane, which at the time was falling into the hands of Islamic State (IS) jihadists. The HDP has long accused the government of collaborating with IS, allegations it denies.

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