Turkish high court rejects bid to close opposition party

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Citing procedural deficiencies, Turkey’s highest court on Wednesday rejected an indictment by a top prosecutor seeking to disband the country’s opposition pro-Kurdish party for alleged links to Kurdish militants, the state-run news agency reported.

The chief appeals court prosecutor filed a case against the People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, earlier this month, prompting international criticism and deepening concerns about a further backslide in democracy and human rights in the country.

The move had occurred on the same day that authorities stripped prominent HDP legislator and human rights activist Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu of his parliamentary seat following his conviction on terrorist propaganda charges over a social media posting.

The prosecutor is demanding that the party be dissolved over its ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, for it to be deprived of state funding and for more than 600 of its members to be banned from politics for five years.

Constitutional Court justices ruled, however, to return the indictment against the HDP to the prosecutor’s office, the Anadolu Agency reported. The prosecution is expected to fix the deficiencies before petitioning the court again.

There was no immediate comment from the HDP, which insists that the case against it is politically motivated.

The Turkish authorities’ moves against the HDP and Gergerlioglu were the latest in a years-long crackdown on the second-largest opposition party in parliament. Dozens of elected HDP lawmakers and mayors — including former co-chair Selahattin Demirtas — as well as thousands of party members have been arrested on terror-related accusations.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Constitutional Court also rejected an appeal by Gergerlioglu for a reversal of the decision to strip him of his parliamentary seat. The ex-legislator said on Twitter he would now appeal his case at the European Court of Human Rights, which based in Strasbourg, France.

The top Turkish court has yet to decide on another petition filed by Gergerlioglu appealing his conviction on charges of propaganda on behalf of the PKK.

The PKK is considered a terror organization by Turkey, the EU and the U.S.

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