The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) does not have the prerogative to make decisions on behalf of Turkish courts, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Wednesday, criticizing the court for its recent decision that urged the release of Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) who is facing terrorism charges in Turkey.
"If the ECtHR wants to be respected by Turkey, it should first get its act together. It should know that with this decision, it is supporting a terrorist," the president said during the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara.
"We hope the ECtHR will not to take a similar stance in cases related to (Gülenist Terror Group) FETÖ terrorists," he said.
The European court ruled Tuesday that Turkey should immediately release Demirtaş and said the justification for his years in prison was "cover for limiting pluralism and debate."
The Grand Chamber of the ECtHR said that the politician – who is charged with terrorism-related offenses – had his freedom of expression, liberty and other rights violated. His pretrial detention sent "a dangerous message to the entire population" that sharply narrowed free democratic debate, it said. "The court thus concluded that the reasons put forward by the authorities for the applicant's pre-trial detention had merely been a cover for an ulterior political purpose, which was a matter of indisputable gravity for democracy," the chamber said.
Turkey's Constitutional Court also previously ruled that the lengthy jailing of Demirtaş violated his rights, a decision that was published in the Official Gazette in June, but he was not released due to a separate investigation. He has been in jail since 2016 on terrorism-related charges.
The court's decision said his detention had exceeded a reasonable period and his right to freedom had been violated. It ordered compensation of TL 50,000 ($7,300) to be paid.
Demirtaş was detained in November 2016 along with other top figures of the HDP on terror charges after they refused to attend trials related to earlier cases they were accused in. He and his party are often criticized for their open support of the PKK terrorist group, which has been listed as a terror group by the U.S. and EU and responsible for the killings of thousands since the early 1980s. He was sentenced to four years and eight months in jail for carrying out terrorist propaganda in a speech in 2013. In 2016, he was also sentenced for insulting "the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish nation, the Turkish state and state institutions." The most serious charges he is facing are related to the notorious Kobani riots on Oct. 6-7, 2014, during which some 43 people were killed, and the role of HDP-linked officials and municipalities in the PKK's unilateral move to end the reconciliation period and launch an unprecedented barricade and trench attacks in cities and towns in Turkey's southeast.