Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, countered the court’s allegations during a hearing on Tuesday in Ankara that the defendants are intentionally stalling the Kobanê trial. He argued that the defendants, detained for seven years, have no incentive to delay proceedings.
“The court has been rejecting our requests, claiming we want to prolong the trial. Why would we want to delay?” Demirtaş question came during the 28th hearing of the Kobanê case that involves 108 politicians, with 18 held in custody. The case began with an investigation into public protests that erupted across Turkey in October 2014, in response to an Islamic State (ISIS) attack on the Kurdish-majority town of Kobanê in northern Syria and the perceived inaction by the Turkish government. The indictment was presented in December 2020, and the trial started in April 2021.
Demirtaş, along with other HDP members, is accused of inciting violence during the 2014 protests but has consistently denied these allegations, maintaining that they are politically motivated.
He highlighted requests made by lawyers and defendants for sufficient time to prepare a defence, and criticised the court’s interpretation of these requests as attempts to prolong the trial. “Since the first hearing, the court has been putting forward this argument. The court rejected our requests, claiming we wanted to prolong the trial. Why would we want to delay? If you think so, you should state your reasons,” he said.
He also drew attention to challenging prison conditions, combined with the difficulties in preparing a defence. He emphasised that defendants are not requesting additional time because they somehow enjoy being in prison but only to allow time to fully prepare the defence.
Demirtaş also pointed out threats and abusive posts identified on Twitter, amounting to 2,385 pages, and presented them to the court as evidence.
He concluded by saying, “If you arrange the periods considering human conditions, we will carry on our defences. Otherwise, you force us to defend ourselves. If we request time, it’s not because we love prison, but because we want to fully prepare our defence. The decisions of the court, including the last one of the Constitutional Court, say that our attitude to prolong the trial and your efforts to speed it up will make a fair trial impossible.”