Appeals court upholds terror sentence of ousted mayor of Diyarbakır

A court of appeals on Wednesday approved the nine year, four month, 15 day prison sentence of ousted Diyarbakır mayor Selçuk Mızraklı, the BirGün daily reported.

Mızraklı’s lawyers said they would take the case to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Mızraklı, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was removed from office by the Ministry of Interior on August 19, 2019 on the grounds of an ongoing “terrorism-related” investigation. He was subsequently tried and convicted of membership in an armed terrorist organization.

Based on witness testimony Mızraklı, a physician, was accused of treating a wounded militant of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and letting him go free and of attending funerals of PKK militants and demonstrations and meetings where pro-PKK propaganda was disseminated.

The PKK has been leading an armed insurgency against Turkey’s security forces since the ’80s in a campaign that has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the US.

In the local elections of March 31, 2019, Mızraklı was elected mayor of the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır after garnering 62.93 percent of the vote. The HDP won 65 municipalities in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions in the local elections. But due to the decisions of Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) in six cases and the Interior Ministry, more than 50 have been removed from office or not allowed to assume office.

In an opinion published on June 19, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (CoE) found the YSK decisions to be inconsistent with international norms and standards and called for their reversal. Similarly, the commission also called for the repeal of the Ministry of Interior’s decisions to replace elected mayors with government officials because “[they] undermine the very nature of local self-government.”

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