Turkey begins trial of pro-Kurdish leader over ‘terrorist links’

The co-leader of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party went on trial in Ankara Thursday on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants. Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the second largest opposition bloc the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was detained in November 2016 and spent over a year behind bars in a case supporters say is politically motivated. Demirtas is charged with “managing a terrorist organization” and “making propaganda for a terrorist group.” He faces up to 142 years in prison if convicted of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization outlawed by Turkey and its Western allies. The party has previously accused the Justice Ministry of preventing any court appearances by Demirtas, who was considered one of the president’s major rivals, with oratory skills matching Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AFP said.