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Kurdish leader Demirtas on trial in Turkey, risks 142 years

07 December 2017

An Ankara court ruled on Thursday to keep pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's co-chair (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş behind bars.

Although 1,250 attorneys have come forward volunteering to defend Demirtas, HDP said the authorities have chosen a courtroom with only about 20 seats, which they said limits Demirtas's right to defence in the trial, where worldwide observers from about a dozen countries are expected to attend.

HDP leader has been under arrest along with other party lawmakers on terrorism charges since Nov 2016.

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According to a media report, the decision was taken as a measure to prevent Zarrab from smuggling his property outside Turkey. Prosecutors disclosed last week that Zarrab pled guilty in October to helping Iran avoid sanctions and bribing a guard.

The trial is one of many against Demirtas, who is imprisoned in a jail in northwestern Turkey. The court judges also refused to allow worldwide and local observers to attend the hearing. At least 33 separate investigations have been launched against Demirtas over the past year.

"In general, we do not see any evidence of criminal activity". "The sentence altogether when you stack up all the charges comes to around 142 years". Demirtaş rejected the ruling, underling that he wants "face-to-face" trial.

But the Turkish government strongly defends the prosecution and judiciary, claiming the HDP, Turkey's second largest opposition party, is a terrorist organization linked to Kurdish insurgent group the PKK.