TURKEY

Co-chair of opposition HDP gets jail sentence due to insulting

CO-CHAIR OF OPPOSITION HDP GETS JAIL SENTENCE DUE TO INSULTING

Co-chair of opposition HDP Figen Yüksekdağ, sentenced to one year in prison for insulting the government.

A court in southern Turkey on Thursday sentenced a former lawmaker and co-chair of opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to one year in prison for insulting the government.

Figen Yüksekdağ, already jailed for terrorism-related charges, was not present at the hearing at Adana's 11th Criminal Court of First Instance.

The court rejected the demand of Yüksekdağ's lawyer for a re-assessment of the former deputy's addresses at an HDP gathering, and a funeral ceremony in Adana on Oct. 12, 2015, for which she was charged with insulting the government.

Yüksekdag was sentenced on Tuesday to one year and six months in prison by an Ankara court for "promoting terrorism".

According to the indictment submitted to Ankara's 17th High Criminal Court, in a 2015 interview with German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Yüksekdağ characterized the PKK, the terror organization which has taken tens of thousands of lives in Turkey in a decades-long terrorist campaign, as a "national liberation movement … that stands for democracy and equality".

She also claimed that the PKK's "policies are not terrorist policies".

In February, Yüksekdağ was removed from her seat in parliament after a court upheld her initial conviction on terrorism charges from last September. A month later, she lost her party membership.

Yüksekdağ was elected as a deputy for the eastern province of Van in November 2015. She was detained in November 2016 along with 13 other HDP lawmakers on terrorism-related charges.

The lawmakers began facing prosecution under anti-terrorism legislation after their parliamentary immunity was lifted in March 2016.

Turkey's government accuses the HDP of being linked to the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

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