ANKARA

Turkey’s interior minister on Thursday said a recent verdict by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was “meaningless” on a former opposition party co-head, whom he accused of being a terrorist.

“[Selahattin] Demirtas is a terrorist. The European Court of Human Rights’ decision, whatever the reason, is meaningless,” Suleyman Soylu said of the ruling on the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party.

The ECHR on Tuesday ruled that the arrest of Demirtas in 2017 for terror charges violated his freedom of expression and right to participate in elections.

The Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) co-leader was being deprived of the rights to liberty, security, and freedom of choice, the ruling said.

Turkey’s government accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK terrorist organization.

The court also urged Turkey to take all necessary measures for the release of Demirtas, and ruled that Ankara should pay “€3,500 [$4,272] in respect of pecuniary damage, €25,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and €31,900 in respect of costs and expenses.”

In November 2016, Demirtas along with 12 HDP lawmakers was arrested on terror-related charges.

He was sentenced in September 2018 to four years and eight months in prison after he was convicted of “spreading terrorist propaganda,” “terrorist organization leadership” and “public incitement to hatred and hostility.”

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan

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