Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

A former co-mayor from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) was convicted and acquitted in two separate cases that he’s accused of collecting medication for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Ahmet Demir was arrested in 2016 on the said accusation in the Ovakışla district of the southeastern province of Bitlis.

Bitlis prosecutors decided last week not to prosecute Demir, who has been behind bars for four years. However, the co-mayor was previously convicted in a separate case on the same legal grounds and received a seven-year prison sentence. 

After an informant told authorities in July 2016 that the Ovakışla municipality was collecting medication for PKK militants, an operation was launched and medication found in a storage space was seized. Prosecutors subsequently launched an investigation into Demir and nine municipal council members for aiding a terrorist organization, among other charges. 

However, Demir and his colleagues denied that the medication was collected for the PKK.

“By obtaining permission from the governorate, this medication was collected in order to be distributed to people living in the refugee camps in [the Syrian border town] of Suruç,” Demir said in a statement, adding that during his tenure as mayor he had only provided assistance to the public. 

The separate conviction was handed down in 2018 by a Bitlis court. Demir was imprisoned together with his brother Ali on the same charges, and they stayed in the same prison in Bitlis until Ahmet Demir was sent to a prison in the northeastern province of Erzurum. His case is pending appeal in the Supreme Court.