A Turkish court on Monday sentenced Selçuk Mızraklı, the former mayor of the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakır, to nine years, four months, 15 days in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organization, the Diken news website reported.
Mızraklı’s trial was heard by the Diyarbakır 9th High Criminal Court. Mızraklı refused to attend the final hearing via the IT Voice and Image System (SEGBİS) from his prison cell in Kayseri province.
The prosecutor in the case charged Mızraklı with membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), based on the testimony an informant as well as references to events and demonstrations Mızraklı attended.
Elected mayor from the Kurdish-oriented Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Mızraklı was removed from office by the Interior Ministry on Aug. 19 of last year and was subsequently arrested on Oct. 22.
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.
Since the breakdown of peace talks between the Turkish government and the PKK in 2015, the HDP has come under increasing pressure as government officials and the pro-government media frequently accuse it of being aligned with the PKK.
The Interior Ministry has removed more than 10 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.