Turkey’s highest court has referred an indictment against the country’s second opposition party to the prosecutor’s office on procedural grounds.
The trial of the chief prosecutor drew international criticism two weeks ago for seeking to shut down the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
The Constitutional Court ruled that the indictment contained procedural omissions.
What is the case?
The prosecutor had asked for a five-year ban of at least 680 HDP officials from politics. He accused them of acting as a political front for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The HDP denied the allegations and said the case was “politically motivated” and “part of a plan which aims to completely erase the Kurdish political movement from democratic politics”.
According to national media such as the pro-government daily Sabah, the inconsistencies included incorrect identification and job titles of some party members, as well as an offer of a political ban for a member who has since died.
However, media reports suggested the shortcomings were minor and would not be a setback for the prosecutor’s case once it was changed.
Turkey targets HDP
Ankara has targeted the HDP as it has gained political prominence in recent years, increasing pressure as part of its broader crackdown after the failed 2016 coup. Earlier this month, police reportedly detained 36 HDP members.
Authorities also arrested HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, who challenged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the 2018 presidential election.
Ankara previously closed several pro-Kurdish parties due to alleged links with the PKK.
Turkey, the European Union and the United States all consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization.
But Washington and Brussels also accuse Erdogan of using the decades-long struggle against the PKK insurgency as an excuse to suppress the rights of Kurdish minorities and the HDP.
Germany denounces Ankara’s ‘bad signals’
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said last week that Turkey was sending “absolutely the wrong signals”.
Maas was referring, among other things, to the prosecutor’s attempt to ban the HDP and Ankara’s withdrawal from an international pact protecting women.
As a result, Maas said the EU keeps sanctions against Turkey “on the table”.
The EU has had a mixed stance on Turkey as the bloc attempts to strengthen ties with Ankara, following a split over energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey is primarily a candidate for EU membership. ‘EU, although the accession process has been blocked for years.
fb / rs (UKTN, dpa, Reuters)