Turkish court upholds jail sentence against Demirtaş for ‘insulting’ Erdoğan

A Turkish appeals court has upheld a jail sentence given to former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş for "insulting" President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Duvar English 

An Istanbul appeals court has upheld a three years and six months jail sentence given to former Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş for "insulting" President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

While the decision was taken by a majority vote, a judge submitted a dissenting opinion.

In its decision, the Istanbul Regional Court of Appeal said that it did not find any "violation of law" in the lower court's decision, "there was not a deficiency with regards to proof or procedures," and "the action fit the crime type stipulated in the law." 

The sentence is the maximum limit of the penalty stipulated for the relevant charge in Turkish law. It concerns Demirtaş's remarks at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport in 2015 on his return from Russia.

Demirtaş had criticized Erdoğan in his speech, saying the president had “fluttered from corridor to corridor” during a conference in Paris, hoping to get a picture taken with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Those comments came after Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane over Syria in November 2015, as Russia started to impose sanctions on Turkey.

Demirtaş has been in prison since 2016. He faces hundreds of years in prison on charges related to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - designated a terrorist organization by Ankara - despite a previous European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that he was imprisoned on political grounds and should be released immediately.