Ousted Turkish opposition mayors sentenced to 237 years in jail

Turkish courts have sentenced 41 opposition mayors to a combined  237 years in jail over terror charges, Turkey’s interior ministry announced on Tuesday.

The mayors had been previously ousted from their posts by the ruling party between July 2016 and March 2019.

The 94 former mayors from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were removed from office between the 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 were convicted following their appeals.

The deposed 52 mayors have still not been tried before the first instance courts.

A mayor was subsequently acquitted of all charges, while another died during the trial.

Twenty of the ex-mayors have been remanded in custody and 7 others have been released on bail while being tried.

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

Mayors’ removals 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 pro-Kurdish mayors of transferring municipal funds to the PKK and of providing the PKK militants with municipal vehicles, claims denied by the pro-Kurdish party.

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

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

Main opposition agrees ousting of Kurdish mayors is “political coup”

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