Erdoğan backs sentences for ex-HDP chairs as 'terror-related'

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended the heavy prison sentences handed down to former executives of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), rejecting claims that the case was politically motivated.

"Calling it a political case is, above all, an insult to democracy and the law," Erdoğan said during an event in the capital Ankara on May 20.

Erdoğan's remarks were a veiled response to criticism from main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel, who had characterized the court's decision as politically driven.

The case centers on the 2014 protests that led to deadly clashes in eastern Türkiye. Former co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish HDP, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, received sentences of 42 years and 30 years and three months, respectively. The charges included "disrupting the integrity of the state" among other offenses.

The trial, concluded on May 16, involved 108 individuals, including HDP executives and officials. Prosecutors sought 38 aggravated life imprisonment sentences across 29 separate charges.

"Of course, the law must hold them accountable. We do not approve comments that exceed the limits," Erdoğan said. "The decision brought joy to our hearts."

Erdoğan described the 2014 events as "not a protest, but a terrorist attempt in which 37 of our people were brutally killed."

"They attempted a rebellion against the state. In 35 provinces and 96 districts, streets, shops and schools were set on fire and the blood of innocents was shed," he said.

"Ten years after the rebellion attempt, we see that justice has been served, albeit late, and we are pleased with this."

The case, commonly referred to as the "Kobani case," originated from large-scale protests in 2014...

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