Turkey: Removed Kurdish mayor acquitted of "terror" charges

Turkey: Removed Kurdish mayor acquitted of "terror" charges
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Naside Toprak, the co-mayor of Silvan, is among dozens of Kurdish mayors who have been removed from office over spurious charges.

The co-mayor of a Kurdish-majority district, who had been removed by Turkey's interior ministry over "terror" charges, was acquitted by a Turkish court on Tuesday.

Naside Toprak was removed from her post in March 2020 as she was serving as the co-mayor of Silvan, a district of 87,000 in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir. Toprak had run under the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and was elected at the local elections in March 2019.

The prosecution had asked for a prison sentence of 22 years and 6 months over her participation in various press conferences and demonstrations, and in activities organized by pro-Kurdish NGO Democratic Society Congress (DTK). Toprak faced accusations of "being a member of a terrorist group" and "spreading propaganda."

Toprak's lawyer said in a defense statement that she had taken part only in political activities and exercised her right to freedom of expression.

The Diyarbakir court acquitted her both of "membership" and "propaganda" charges.

The municipality of Silvan is being headed by a state appointed official since Toprak's removal from office.

Close to 60 elected Kurdish mayors have been removed and replaced by state officials in Turkey in the last four years, over spurious "terror" charges.