Turkish courts sentence ousted opposition mayors to 257 years in prison

Turkish courts have sentenced 41 opposition mayors to a combined 257 years in prison on charges of terrorism, Turkey’s Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday.

Ninety-four former mayors from the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were removed from office between a July 2016 failed coup attempt and the March 31 local elections by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as part of a crackdown on the Kurdish political movement.

According to a statement by the ministry 33 mayors, among the 94, have ongoing appeals while the other seven lost their appeals.

Fifty-two of the mayors still have not been tried.

One was subsequently acquitted of all charges, while another died during his trial.

Twenty of the ex-mayors have been remanded in custody, and seven others have been released on bail while standing trial.

Eight have been served with an arrest warrant, the ministry said.

The mayors’ removal had been based on their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since the early 1980s.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP government accused the Kurdish mayors of transferring municipal funds to the PKK and of providing PKK militants with municipal vehicles, claims denied by the HDP.

In the March 31 local elections the HDP won most of the vacated posts back.

In August Erdogan’s AKP again replaced three Kurdish opposition mayors from southeastern Diyarbakir, Mardin and Van provinces with trustees as part of a major terrorism-related investigation in which 418 HDP members and supporters have also been detained.

The party’s former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ were arrested in November 2016 on charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda and membership in a terrorist organization. (SCF with ipanews.com)

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