Mayor of Sur sentenced to long prison term

The deposed co-mayor of Sur, Cemal Özdemir has been sentenced to almost nine years in prison by a Turkish court in Amed.

Cemal Özdemir, the HDP co-mayor of the Sur district in Amed (Diyarbakir), who was deposed in December 2019, has been sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison for "membership of a terrorist organisation", "terrorist propaganda ". The politician was acquitted of charges of "illegal handling of dangerous substances and goods".

Cemal Özdemir was arrested in Amed on 23 December 2019. Two days before, he was suspended and replaced by a trustee appointed by the Turkish Ministry of the Interior. The charges against the politician were based on constructed evidence and denunciations.

Özdemir was accused of having participated in 22 legal rallies and press conferences in the years between 2012 and 2019. In addition, the prosecution also objected to various Facebook postings and the politician's membership in the Solidarity Association of the Survivors of Disappeared Persons (MEYA-DER). The association, which was working for the clarification of the fate of thousands of "disappeared" people in Northern Kurdistan, had been closed by emergency decree in the course of the state of emergency in Turkey. Özdemir's father is one of about 17,000 people who disappeared in police custody. The arrest warrant against the politician was cancelled in mid-April.

The accusations against Cemal Özdemir were largely based on the testimony of key witness Hicran Berna Ayverdi, who has already appeared in numerous trials against Kurdish politicians, including the trial against the deposed mayor of Amed and doctor Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı.

Cemal Özdemir was not personally present at the hearing which was held at the 8th Heavy Penal Court in Amed today. The verdict against him was handed down without taking evidence or hearing the alleged witness. The court also decided to continue the ban on leaving the country, but ordered the lifting of the previously ordered judicial control.

Only eleven municipalities still run by HDP

Of the 65 Kurdish municipalities won by the HDP in the local elections, 46 are now run by state-appointed trustees. Arrest warrants have been issued for almost thirty elected mayors, 19 of whom are currently in prison. In six municipalities, the elected mayors could not even take office because the election committee refused to recognise them. In their place, the defeated AKP candidates were hoisted into office, who repeatedly make a name for themselves through robbery and corruption. The HDP itself initiated impeachment proceedings against two mayors. This leaves a total of only eleven remaining in office.