Turkey's top court rejects HDP's request to delay defense in closure case

Turkey's top court rejects HDP's request to delay defense in closure case
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The HDP officials said they will present their verbal defense on April 11

The Constitutional Court in Turkey has rejected the request of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to delay their verbal defense until after the elections in the closure case against the party as Turkey prepares for parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14.

The Constitutional Court (AYM) had previously postponed the date for the verbal defense at the request of the HDP from March 14 to April 11. However, the party had also requested a three-month delay for the verbal defense due to earthquake and election processes, which was unanimously rejected by the AYM.

The case against the HDP, Turkey's third-biggest party, comes ahead of elections that pose the biggest test for President Tayyip Erdogan's 20 years in power. Polls show he and his ruling AK Party could lose, especially if the HDP cooperates with an opposition alliance.

A prosecutor filed the case against the HDP in March 2021, accusing it of having ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a claim that the HDP denies.

The party, which won 11.7% of the vote in the 2018 parliamentary election, is not part of the main opposition alliance. But it has signalled it will support the bloc's candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the presidential vote.

HDP supporters helped the opposition alliance in 2019 to defeat mayoral candidates of the ruling AKP (Justice and Development) in Istanbul, Ankara and other major Turkish cities.

Polls show Erdogan could lose in a vote shaping into the biggest test of his 20-year rule, especially if the HDP cooperates with the opposition alliance.