Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the European Court of Human Rights of “defending terrorism” after ruling that Turkey should immediately release prominent Kurdish politician.
Speaking to lawmakers in his party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan called imprisoned politician Selahattin Demirtas a “terrorist” responsible for the deaths of dozens of people during a protest five years ago.
Erdogan also accused Demirtas of having links to an illegal Kurdish group. The Kurdish politician faces 142 years in prison on terrorism charges but has denied any wrongdoing.
Demirtas was the leader of Turkey’s second-largest party, the HDP, before his arrest in November 2016.
He ran twice for president against Erdogan. On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that Demirtas’ four-year sentence was illegal and violated five fundamental rights, including freedom of expression.
Erdogan said the European court had ruled “unusually” because Demirtas and his lawyers “did not go through all the legal channels they could find inside Turkey.”
He added that the court could not rule in favor of the Turkish justice system and courts.