Turkish court rules keep ousted Diyarbakır mayor in pre-trial detention

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Suspended Diyarbakır mayor was brought to the courthouse under heavy security measures.

A Turkish court on Monday ruled to continue the pre-trial detention of Selçuk Mızraklı, the former mayor of the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, who is standing trial for alleged membership in a terrorist organization, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

Monday’s hearing was the second in Mızraklı’s trial in which he faces up to 15 years in prison.

During the hearing, his lawyer, Mehmet Emin Aktar, accused the prosecutor of acting upon evidence that does not comply with legal norms.

Mızraklı, who attended the hearing via the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS), reiterated his earlier claim that the case was politically motivated.

“In many countries, politically motivated prosecutions are remembered as dark stains on the countries’ history. You should not take the easy way out by conforming to the will of the political power. Everyone is responsible for this. You cannot say ‘I was misled’,” he said.

A group of observers who attended the hearing were prevented by police from making a public statement in front of the courthouse after the proceedings ended.

Mızraklı was elected Diyarbakır mayor on March 31, 2019. Along with several other Kurdish mayors, he was removed from office by Turkey’s Interior Ministry in August.

The one-and-a-half page indictment consists of the testimony of an informant as well as references to events and demonstrations Mızraklı attended as evidence of terrorism.

The Interior Ministry has removed 13 Kurdish mayors since the local elections last year, citing alleged links to terrorism. The controversial practice was also widely implemented during Turkey’s two-year-long state of emergency following an attempted coup in 2016, with the removal of scores of Kurdish mayors, many of whom also stood trial on terrorism-related charges after their ousting.

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