Turkish court sentenced Kurdish leader to 42 years over 2014 unrest

A Turkish court sentenced an ex-leader of the pro-Kurdish HDP party to 42 years in prison on Thursday for his alleged involvement in the fatal riots that broke out in 2014 as jihadists from the Islamic State group overran the Syrian town of Kobane.

Already jailed since 2016, Selahattin Demirtas, 51, a two-time election rival to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was convicted for dozens of crimes including undermining state unity and the country's integrity.

The court in Sincan on the outskirts of the capital Ankara also sentenced HDP's former co-chair Figen Yuksekdag to 30 years and three months, private broadcaster NTV and rights group MLSA reported.

The court ordered the release of some politicians including Gultan Kisanak, former mayor of major pro-Kurdish city Diyarbakir in the southeast, but many others were handed jail terms.

The case against former members of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), including Demirtas and Yuksekdag, stems from one of the darker episodes of the more than decade-long Syria war.

Thirty-seven people died in violent protests against the Turkish army's inaction in the face of an IS offensive against the largely Kurdish northern Syrian town.

The fighting was visible from the Turkish side of the border and many in the country's Kurdish community viewed the army as complicit in the humanitarian disaster that followed.

Turkey views the HDP as the political front of outlawed Kurdish militants who have been waging an insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.


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