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Turkish Constitutional Court to hear indictment against Kurdish People's Democratic Party

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By Euronews with AP
A member of the People's Democratic Party, or HDP, attends the start of Nowruz - or New Year - celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey in March
A member of the People's Democratic Party, or HDP, attends the start of Nowruz - or New Year - celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey in March   -   Copyright  Emrah Gurel/AP
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Turkey’s highest court is set to hear an application for the country's opposition pro-Kurdish party to be disbanded on terror-related charges.

On Monday the Turkish Constitutional Court accepted an indictment lodged by a top prosecutor against the 40,500-member People's Democratic Party, or HDP.

Bekir Sahin, the chief public prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, has demanded the group be disbanded on the basis that it allegedly colluded with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in seeking to "destroy the unity of the state".

The HDP, a mostly left-wing minority party, has had a presence in Turkey since 2012 and holds 55 seats in parliament.

The Constitutional Court's agreement to hear the case comes against the backdrop of a widespread government crackdown on the group.

Dozens of HDP legislators — including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag — and thousands of party members have been arrested on terror-related charges in recent years.

Several HDP mayors elected in 2019 have also since been replaced by state-appointed trustees. The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called HDP members terrorists while his nationalist party allies have called for it to be shut down.

Last Thursday a gunman attacked a HDP office in Izmir, western Turkey, killing a female employee, Denis Poyraz. The assailant entered the building, fired shots and attempted to set it on fire, the HDP said.

No date has yet been set for the hearing against the People's Democratic Party. Sahin is also asking for the HDP to be deprived of treasury funding and for about 450 of its members to be barred from holding political office for five years.

This was chief Sahin's second petition seeking the HDP's closure after the Constitutional Court rejected a previous attempt in March, citing procedural deficiencies.

The HDP is now preparing its preliminary defence for submission to the court. A two-thirds majority of the Court's 15-strong General Assembly is required for its dissolution.

In a statement issued on Monday, the HDP described the ruling as "the political wishes of the Erdogan regime approved... Law and justice have reached their lowest point in Turkey".

Last week it also sought to blame the government for Poyraz's killing, writing on Twitter: "This government and its allies prepared the ground for this murder with their hands and very own words. They targeted the Kurdish people, their representatives and the forces of democracy with the hateful atmosphere they created."