Turkey prosecutors demand up to 142 years in jail for Kurd leader

Selahattin Demirtas

ANKARA - Turkish prosecutors are demanding up to 142 years in prison for pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader Selahattin Demirtas on charges of links to Kurdish militants, state media said on Tuesday.
The charismatic Demirtas was detained in November along with another nine HDP lawmakers and his female co-leader Figen Yuksekdag.
Prosecutors in the Kurdish-majority southeastern city of Diyarbakir in the same indictment asked that Yuksekdag serves up to 83 years in jail, the state-run Anadolu news agency added.
The MPs are charged of links with and membership of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an armed insurrection against the Turkish state since 1984.
But Demirtas, as well as the other MPs, has denied having any links to the PKK and denounced the case as political.
The Kurdish leader says he is being punished for daring to oppose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's drive for a presidential system.
The government had pursued a strategy of peace talks with the PKK but clashes flared in 2015 after the collapse of a two-and-a-half year ceasefire.
The PKK is designated as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies. Over three decades of fighting are estimated to have claimed over 40,000 lives.