Ankara, Dec 7 (AFP) Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party leader goes on trial in Ankara today over alleged links to Kurdish militants, after spending more than a year behind bars in a case his supporters say is politically motivated.

Selahattin Demirtas, co-chairman of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was first detained in November last year in a crackdown under the state of emergency that followed 2016’s failed coup.

Before his arrest Demirtas was considered one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s major rivals, a silky orator who has succeeded in bringing his party from the fringe into the political mainstream.

The HDP co-leader, 44, is charged with “managing a terror organisation”, “making propaganda for a terror group”, “inciting criminal acts” and more. He faces up to 142 years in prison if convicted.

Demirtas — who is being held in prison in the northwestern region of Edirne, well away from his Kurdish heartland — is not expected to appear in the first hearing of his trial in Ankara.

The HDP has denounced a letter it claimed the justice ministry sent to all courts prosecuting Demirtas, telling them not to allow the charismatic leader to appear in court. (AFP) AQS

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.