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EU human rights court to rule on Turkish opposition leader’s imprisonment

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EU human rights court to rule on Turkish opposition leader’s imprisonment

ECHR
Photo: EPA-EFE/PATRICK SEEGER

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will today give its final judgement on Selahattin Demirtas vs. Turkey.

The case follows the arrest and pre-trial detention of Selahattin Demirtas, a former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party in Turkey. Demirtas was detained in November 2016 for alleged membership in a terrorist organisation and public incitement to commit violence following a string of pro-Kurdish protests and Islamic State terrorist attacks. A previous ECHR ruling regarding pretrial detention in Demirtas’ favour was denounced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as supporting terrorism.

In accordance with the ECHR’s 2018 judgement, it is highly likely the ECHR’s final ruling will be in Demirtas’ favour, which could seriously hurt future EU-Turkey relations. Under Erdogan, Ankara has slowly shifted away from Brussels and towards a partnership with Moscow in a bid for increased regional power. A harsh ruling by the ECHR could further solidify Ankara’s break with Europe and the West, escalating conflict over Cyprus and Eastern Mediterranean gas. A closer Ankara-Moscow relationship would entail increased arms sales and bilateral cooperation on regional security and stabilisation, as recently demonstrated in their work resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

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