Top court accepts HDP's demand for extension of time to submit defense in closure case

Turkey's Constitutional Court on Sept. 2 granted the HDP an extension of time to file its defense with regards to an indictment seeking the party's closure. The HDP therefore will have 30 more days to prepare its defense.

Citizens are seen holding HDP's flags during a rally.

Duvar English

Turkey's Constitutional Court on Sept. 2 accepted the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP)'s demand for additional time to prepare its defense in the face of a closure case filed against it.

With this decision, the HDP will have 90 days to draft its defense, instead of the initially granted 60 days.

Afterwards, Court of Cassation prosecutor Bekir Şahin will submit his final opinion (“esas hakkındaki görüş”) to the Constitutional Court, which will again be forwarded to the HDP.

The next stage will be to allow HDP officials and prosecutor Şahin to make a verbal defense.

Upon the completion of this process, the top court's rapporteur will prepare a report of their final opinion (“esas hakkındaki rapor”), which will be given to Constitutional Court members.

If two-thirds of the top court members, i.e. at least 10 of them, rule for the HDP's closure, the decision will be published in the Official Gazette. The top court might also just decide to partially or completely cut off state aid to the party.

If the top court rules that HDP officials' statements and actions were responsible for the party's closure, the relevant individuals will be banned from politics for a period of five years.

In the culmination of a years-long crackdown against the HDP, prosecutor Şahin submitted the first indictment calling for the party's closure on March 17. 

The Constitutional Court ruled that the indictment had procedural omissions and returned it to the Court of Cassation on March 31. 

On June 7, Şahin submitted a revised indictment, which was eventually accepted by the top court. 

The prosecutor's move marks the revival of a long history of Turkey banning political parties, including pro-Kurdish ones.

The HDP has recently come under intensified pressure from nationalist allies of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

That coincided with falling poll support for the AKP and its nationalist allies as they battle the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Elections are not scheduled until 2023.