ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The ousted mayor of Turkey’s mainly Kurdish Diyarbakir province was sentenced on Monday to more than nine years in prison for membership of a terrorist organization, a judicial source said.
Selcuk Mizrakli, from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was removed from his post in August over alleged links to the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) along with mayors of two other major Kurdish cities.
The judicial source said Mizrakli had been sentenced to nine years, four months and fifteen days in jail for membership of a terrorist organization.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan frequently accuses the HDP of links to the PKK, which is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the EU and the United States. The HDP denies such links.
The central government has so far appointed trustees to 32 municipalities that were formerly held by the HDP since local elections in March 2019, according to an HDP source. More than twenty co-mayors are either in jail pending trial or have been handed prison sentences for crimes related to terrorism.
The HDP appoints two people as mayors and leaders within the party to promote gender equality.
The removal of the mayors echoed the dismissal of dozens of mayors in 2016 over similar accusations, part of a purge that began after a failed coup. Nearly 100 mayors and thousands of HDP party members were jailed in a crackdown that drew expressions of concern from the United States and European Union.
Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Toby Chopra