Turkish justice ministry calls for lifting immunity of pro-Kurdish MPs

Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), joins worshippers in the Friday prayers in Diyarbakir, Turkey March 4, 2016. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey’s justice ministry has submitted a request for parliament to lift the immunity from prosecution of the leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), state-run Anadolu Agency said on Friday.

President Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly called for MPs from the party to face prosecution, accusing them of being an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group.

Anadolu identified those targeted by the request as HDP co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag and party deputies Selma Irmak, Sirri Sureyya Onder and Ertugrul Kurkcu.

The request was submitted to the prime minister’s office, it said. Turkish MPs have immunity from prosecution.

The mainly Kurdish southeast has been hit by the worst violence since the 1990s after a two-year PKK ceasefire collapsed last July, triggering nationalist calls to prosecute politicians accused of being close to the PKK.

The opposition nationalist MHP asked parliament on Thursday to discuss requests to lift the immunity of MPs as part of the fight against terrorism.

Demirtas alone is the subject some 60 dossiers in parliament calling for the lifting of his immunity, including some related to his calls for street protests, but as yet there have been no moves in the assembly to open the way for his prosecution.

Writing by Daren Butler; editing by David Dolan