A Turkish appeals court has upheld a jail sentence given to the former mayor of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, Selçuk Mızraklı.
Mızraklı, from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was removed from office on Aug. 19, 2019 over “terrorism” charges. On March 9, the Diyarbakır 9th Heavy Penal Court sentenced him to nine years, four months and 15 days in jail over “membership to a terrorist organization,” referring the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Mızraklı’s lawyers appealed the decision and took the case to the Diyarbakır Regional Courts of Justice. The appeals court however declined lawyers’ demand for a hearing, confirming the lower court’s decision in a ruling on July 13, Mezopotamya news agency reported.
The Diyarbakır Regional Courts of Justice also rejected the lawyers’ demand for Mızraklı’s release under judicial control, citing the “nature of the crime,” “the current evidences” and “the flight risk.”
Lawyers will now appeal to the Court of Cassation, which is the last instance for reviewing verdicts given by courts of criminal and civil justice.
Since March 2019 local elections, mayors have been replaced by trustees in more than half of the roughly 65 municipalities won by the HDP.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 denies such links.