The opposition bloc Nation Alliance’s presidential candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has repeatedly said that former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş and philanthropist Osman Kavala would be released from prison in line with the court rulings if he assumes power in the elections.
Responding to judicial independence criticism, Demirtaş said on April 26 that he had no extra demand for his release other than existing court rulings and added that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ignores court decisions.
“First of all, I did not ask for my release from anyone. Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu also said that only the court decisions about me would be implemented. Erdoğan, on the other hand, declared that he does not recognize the court decisions, the law, or the constitution,” Demirtaş tweeted.
Merhabalar. Şu seçim ortamında belki çok da önemli değil ama büyük bir yalanı, iftirayı, ahlaksızlığı, adaletsizliği bilmeyen kalmasın diye dört mahkeme kararı paylaşacağım.— Selahattin Demirtaş (@hdpdemirtas) April 26, 2023
Afterwards, Demirtaş explained the previous court rulings one by one. He recalled that the first release decision in favor of himself was issued by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2018. In response to the this ruling, Erdoğan had said, "The decisions of the ECHR do not bind us. We will make our counter move and finalize this issue."
As part of the Council of Europe, the ECHR rulings are binding to Turkey according to the relevant agreements and the Turkish Constitution. The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers voted on Feb. 2, 2022 to begin infringement proceedings against Turkey due to the country's failure to release Kavala.
Demirtaş continued, “The second release decision for me was issued by the Ankara 19th High Criminal Court in 2019. Erdoğan did not recognize the decision, the ruling was not implemented. I was arrested for the second time on the same charges.”
Demirtaş also added the rulings of the Turkish Constitutional Court in 2020 and the ECHR’s Grand Chamber in 2021 in favor of his release.
Demirtaş was detained on Nov. 4, 2016, along with several HDP MPs and HDP co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ. As part of the mass arrests following the July 2016 coup attempt, they were charged with spreading “terrorist propaganda” for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the Turkish government considers a terrorist organization. Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ vehemently denied these charges.