A Turkish court has sentenced former Diyarbakır Mayor Selçuk Mızraklı from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) to nine years, four months and 15 days in prison on charges of “being a member of a terrorist organization” in a retrial, Mesopotamia News Agency reported on Nov. 29.
In 2019, Mızraklı was removed from his post as Diyarbakır Mayor six months after he won the local elections and was replaced with a trustee on “terrorism” charges.
He was initially sentenced to the same sentence, nine years and four months in prison, for the same charges. But the Court of Cassation, Turkey's high court of appeals, overturned his sentence in December 2022, saying his right to defense was violated, and the conviction was based on “incomplete investigation.”
In his retrial, the court prepared a new indictment for Mızraklı over the same charges.
During the last hearing, secret witness Ümit Akbıyık testified against Mızraklı. The witness claimed Mızraklı told him that he was “in the health committee of the (PKK)” and he bought jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's posters from a printing house after becoming a parliamentarian.
Responding to Akbıyık’s testimony, Mızraklı said “We are faced with a vile conspiracy that has memorized his role and is well thought out. It’s a lie and fake.”
“The slanderer claims that during our first meeting, I told him that I was on the health committee of the organization. Do you think it is reasonable to say such a thing at the first meeting? All of this points to a preparation for trustee appointments,” he added.
On the other hand, the prosecutor submitted their final opinion, prepared before Akbıyık’s testimony, to the court on a USB flash drive. The opinion argued Mızraklı committed the crime of “being a member of a terrorist organization” through the protests and events he participated in, and the statements of Hicran Berna Ayverdi and witness Ümit Akbıyık.
Mızraklı’s lawyer Mehmet Emin Aktar denied the claims, saying that the prosecutor prepared the final opinion, which included secret witness’ testimony, before the testimony. “The prosecution also knows that the trial is a theater.”
“Neither the prosecutor wrote this opinion nor you, the judges, will decide in this case. Only you will sign this decision. If you attack the truth so much, be sure that you will not be happy in life,” another lawyer Muhsin Bilal said.
The court sentenced Mızraklı to nine years, four months and 15 days in prison over "terrorism" charges.
Since March 2019 local elections, mayors have been replaced by trustees in more than half of the roughly 65 municipalities won by the HDP. Ankara has appointed governors and other local authorities as trustees in those provinces/districts.
The Turkish government accuses the HDP of having links to the PKK, leading to prosecutions of thousands of its members and some leaders. The HDP, now HEDEP, denies such links.