In the reopened trial for "revealing the identity of persons involved in counter-terrorism", Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş was again sentenced to two and a half years in prison on Friday. In the first trial in May 2021, the court in Ankara sentenced him to two years and six months imprisonment. However, a regional appeals court overturned the sentence last April at the request of the prosecution and ordered that the case be retried due to insufficient sentencing.
The subject of the proceedings is an alleged threat against Yüksel Kocaman, former chief prosecutor in the Turkish capital and now a prosecutor at the Court of Cassation. He is considered a loyal follower of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whom he met in prison in 1999. Kocaman was the prosecutor in charge of the penitentiary, while Erdoğan was in pre-trial detention because of a poem inciting the people. Kocaman is also considered the prosecutor who prevented Demirtaş's release despite the ECtHR ruling.
Demirtaş was essentially accused of making a statement about Kocaman's wedding. "There was a time when prosecutors were even given armoured vehicles. Yet they did not manage to evade justice. The gift bags someone puts in your hands will also not save you from prosecution," Demirtaş said on the celebration, among other things in another pending case against him. The 2020 wedding at the Sheraton Hotel in Ankara was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the chairman of the Court of Cassation, the ministers of the interior and justice, the chief of general staff and the chairman of the election commission.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office had demanded a prison sentence of up to eight years for Demirtaş on the grounds that, Demirtaş, with his statement “did not only denounce Kocaman as a "person in a counter-terrorism office" but had also made him a target among "supporters of terrorist organisations", thus violating the Counter-Terrorism Law No. 3713 Art. 6/1.” The article regulates the "prohibition of revealing the identity of persons engaged in counter-terrorism or other persons who might thus become targets of violent acts, as well as announcing that violent acts might be committed against certain identifiable persons by terrorists." It is not necessary that an attack actually occurs against the persons mentioned.
Demirtaş, who is imprisoned in the F-type prison of Edirne in western Turkey and attended the trial via the SEGBIS video conferencing system, denied the accusations against him. He stressed that the "criminalised statement" was a passage from his defence speech in another trial. One of the judges agreed with this and spoke in favour of an acquittal due to the absence of a criminal offence. Demirtaş's defence has announced legal remedies.
Selahattin Demirtaş has been in prison for almost six years. The then HDP leader was arrested in November 2016 along with nine other HDP MPs, including former co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ. Despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), he is not being released. In the main trial, the prosecution accuses him, among other things, of founding and leading a terrorist organisation, terrorist propaganda and incitement of the people. The indictment builds on 31 investigation reports submitted to the Turkish parliament during his time as an MP for the lifting of immunity. If convicted, Demirtaş faces up to 142 years in prison. In the trial concerning the October 2014 protests against Turkish support for the jihadist militia "Islamic State" (ISIS) in the attack on the town of Kobanê in Rojava, Demirtaş is even facing up to 15,000 years in prison. Demirtaş has already been sentenced to various prison terms in several trials, including for insulting the president.