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Top Turkish court accepts indictment seeking ban on pro-Kurdish HDP party

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The photo shows Turkey's Constitutional Court building in the capital Ankara, Turkey, March 31, 2021.

Turkey's top court has put the opposition and pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) on trial for alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group, setting the stage for possible closure of the parliament's third-largest party.

On Monday, the Constitutional Court accepted an indictment filed by a top prosecutor, but rejected a request “at this stage” to block the bank account where the party receives treasury aid, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

The report added that the judges unanimously accepted the indictment from Turkey's top appeals court. It will now be sent to the HDP for its initial defense.

Prosecutors earlier this month filed an indictment before the Constitutional Court in a bid to dissolve the HDP, and ban hundreds of its current members from politics.

The original paperwork, filed in March, was rejected by the top court's judges to fix shortcomings. The indictment was reintroduced by prosecutors on June 7.

HDP co-leader Mithat Sancar promised a successful defense of the case, saying that the charges had no legal foundation.

“This is a really disastrous move by the Constitutional Court,” he told reporters at the party's Ankara headquarters.

"If the court at the end of this case closes the HDP, it will show it gave in to blackmail, threats, and plans for chaos."

Sancar called the case against the HDP a “political operation” but said the party was “determined” to continue its work.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has repeatedly called for the HDP to be banned.

“This indictment wasn't prepared by the prosecutor but at the MHP headquarters, with final development by the palace's legal teams,” Sancar commented.

The Turkish government has long accused the HDP of having links to the PKK, which is listed as terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU. The group has been calling for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

The pro-Kurdish political party denies formal links to the militants, and describes attacks by Erdogan's ruling AK Party (AKP) and the MHP as retribution for its strenuous opposition to the government.

The HDP, which won nearly six million votes in the 2018 parliamentary election, has been under crackdown since 2016 with the arrest of several of its lawmakers and leaders, including its charismatic former co-chair Selahattin Demirtas.

Demirtas, a two-time rival to Erdogan in presidential elections, has been in detention since 2016 despite calls for his release.

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