An Ankara court ruled on Thursday to keep pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s co-chair (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş behind bars.
During the first hearing of the case, opened on charges of leading a terrorist organization, Demirtaş failed to appear before the court as he refused to give his defense through the voice and video informatics system (SEGBIS).
Lawyers for Demirtaş said the court asked him not to show up in the courtroom over security concerns and ordered to defend himself from the prison via SEGBIS. Demirtaş rejected the ruling, underling that he wants “face-to-face” trial.
The Ankara 19th Criminal Court ruled that Demirtaş remains arrested pending trial and the next hearing was scheduled for Feb 14, 2018.
HDP leader has been under arrest along with other party lawmakers on terrorism charges since Nov 2016. At least 33 separate investigations have been launched against Demirtas over the past year.
Turkish government has stepped up political pressure on Kurdish minority in recent years, seizing Kurdish-run municipalities and arresting their mayors. Dozens of trustees have been appointed by the Interior Ministry to mostly pro-Kurdish municipalities in Turkey’s Southeast, replacing the elected mayors and municipal council members.
Earlier this week, a motion was filed against 19 more HDP deputies for disseminating propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).