Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld prison sentences handed down in 2018 to 13 Kurdish politicians, including former Van Mayor Bekir Kaya, on terrorism charges, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Thursday.
In September 2018 the Van 1st High Criminal Court sentenced 13 defendants in the main Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trial, which started in 2012, to between six years, three months and eight years, nine months in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
The KCK is the umbrella organization that encompasses the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.
Kaya, who had been behind bars for over six years, and the 12 others were detained in police operations on June 7, 2012, against the KCK in Van, and a case was launched against them on terrorism charges.
In 2018 the Van court also ruled for the detention of 13 individuals who had stood trial while free on bail.
The court decisions in 2018 came the second time the defendants stood trial as the first trial was concluded in January 2016 when the defendants appealed the court’s ruling at the Supreme Court of Appeals and the top court annulled the local court’s ruling, paving way for a retrial of the suspects.
The political and legal assault on Kurdish politicians in Turkey, which intensified after a truce between Kurdish militants and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government broke down in 2015, grew even stronger after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan survived a coup attempt in July 2016 that was followed by a sweeping political crackdown.