Demirtaş's first comments in court
In testimony he gave via a video link in a trial brought against him at Mardin Penal Court of First Instance No 1, HDP Co-Chaır Selahattin Demirtaş, who is being held in custody in Edirne, said, “No power has the right to establish a controlling influence over another power. There is not one grain of difference between me and MPs serving in parliament at this moment in terms of immunity. I have be
HDP Co-Chaır Selahattin Demirtaş, recently remanded in custody due to an investigation launched into him in Diyarbakır, participated via a video link from Edirne F-Type prison where he is being held at a hearing of the trial in Mardin where he is to be prosecuted on a non-custodial basis. Attending the trial brought at Penal Court of First Instance No 1 for the offence of ‘publicly insulting Turkishness, the Republic and the Turkish Parliament’ in a speech that he made in Mardin on 3 February 2016 were HDP MPs Osman Baydemir and Meral Danış Beştaş as witnesses, the lawyers and HDP MPs Mehmet Ali Aslan and Ali Atalan along with Democratic Society Party (DTK) Co-Chair Leyla Güven as observers.
THE ALLEGATION OF UNCONSTITUTIONALITY REJECTED
Following identification checks, the lawyers addressed the court and, stating that the trial was against the constitution and their client was still covered by parliamentary immunity, called on the proceedings to be halted and for the Constitutional Court to be consulted as to whether the act lifting immunity was against the constitution.
DEMİRAŞ: IMMUNITY WAS LIFTED FOR THE PERIOD PRIOR TO 20 MAY
With this application by the lawyers denied, Demirtaş, making his defence via a video link, stating that there could be no fair trial from a distance of 1700 kilometres and with limited resources, said, “Some of my lawyers are at my side. Others are in the courtroom. It is impossible for me to exchange information with my lawyers under these conditions. Even though circumstances are not greatly conducive to making a defence, I agree to submit a defence at Mardin Penal Court of First Instance No 1 where the file is located. I wish to reply to the accusations made against me. The speech whose transcript is contained in the indictment was mine. But, in some places there are transcription and spelling mistakes. No precise indication is given as to which sentence of the speech I insulted Turkishness, the Republic and the Turkish Parliament. For, there is no insult anywhere in my speech that targets or alludes to the Turkish nation or the Turkish Parliament of which I am a member. The speech from beginning to end was of the nature of a criticism of the government under the previous period’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and of a plea. I think that an acquittal is warranted at this stage. I wish to say one or two things about myself and the other MPs who have been stripped of their immunity. I am the Co-Chair and group chair of the third largest party in parliament. I expressed my views both inside and outside parliament when lifting immunity was mooted. Immunity was lifted retroactively as of 20 May. Immunity has remained in place since 20 May. That is, immunity was lifted retroactively and not with future application. I see the opportunity to dispel the allegations levelled against me through a fair trial. These are not manoeuvres we are making to evade trial. There is not one grain of difference between me and MPs serving in parliament at this moment in terms of immunity.”
MY IMMUNITY HAS REMAINED IN PLACE AS OF 20 MAY
Selahattin Demirtaş, stating that his immunity was currently absolutely in place, said, “If I do not agree to give testimony and do not attend in court, the court may take no action against me. The act that was passed maintains the armour of immunity after 20 May. Even if in our country it functions most teeteringly, the separation of powers is a fundamental principle. No power has the right to establish a controlling influence over another power. A judicial authority cannot hinder a member of the legislature who has immunity in his or her legislative activity. The court is ignoring the absolute immunity that has been in place since 20 May. I have been deprived of my legislative power, the national will as confirmed by the people and my power to represent.”
A recess was taken in the proceedings to permit the lawyers’ defences and the MPs Baydemir and Beştaş’s to be heard.
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