Duvar English

Former Diyarbakır Mayor Selçuk Mızraklı from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison for “being a member of a terrorist organization” March 9.

Mızraklı’s sentencing comes a year after he won the local elections in Diyarbakır by a landslide and six months after he was removed from his post and replaced with a trustee on the same charges.

Mızraklı was convicted on the statements of an organization member who was detained in 2016, gave statements about over 100 people but didn’t mention Mızraklı.

Three years later, the member called was brought into Diyarbakır to testify against Mızraklı where they said that he had operated on a member of an organization and secretly discharged them from the hospital while he worked as an operating surgeon.

“This person has no direct knowledge of my operating on an organization member. I wasn’t on duty since I was a senior surgeon,” Mızraklı said in his defense.

“Witness testimonies say that a part of the patient’s intestines was cut out. Per medical procedure, it’s unusual for the patient to be discharged the next day. Even this fact shows that the witness testimony is faulty.”

Mızraklı’s lawyer Cihat Aydın noted that a previous Supreme Court ruling said that no activity should be deemed “terrorist activity” unless a witness testimony is supported by other evidence.

“What promises were made to this woman to make her testify after three years? She was acquitted last week. You should have determined the witness’ motivations,” Aydın said.

Mızraklı’s lawyer Mehmet Emin Aktar noted Mızraklı’s abrupt detention in the case that’s been ongoing since 2017, and said that the court couldn’t justify his detention by claiming him as a flight risk because the former mayor joined sit-ins in Diyarbakır for days after his replacement with a trustee.

“You can detain Selçuk Mızraklı for a few years but you will have judged a whole community,” Aktar said. “The ruling on Selçuk Mızraklı will show the Kurdish people that they don’t have the right to elect their own government.”

Mızraklı had shared footage of the former trustee’s extravagant renovations of the municipal office and had led the over 40-day-long sit-in protests against trustees after getting dismissed from his post.