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Former Van mayor Kaya sentenced to 8 years, 3 months in prison

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A former mayor of the predominantly Kurdish city of Van in Turkey’s East was on Thursday sentenced to eight years, three months in prison on terrorism charges, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.

Bekir Kaya, who was elected mayor of Van in 2014 from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and jailed two years later, attended the hearing via videoconference along with five municipal workers.

The workers were sentenced to two years, one month each.

According to the indictment Kaya was accused of using the resources of the municipality for the needs of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“It is obvious that this is a politically motivated case that was fabricated to suppress a political movement,” Kaya said during his defense, referring to several other criminal cases against Kurdish mayors in southeastern provinces.

HDP Co-chair Sezai Temelli was in Van to attend the hearing, saying, “There is no trial here, it’s only an attack by a government looking for a vendetta.”

In addition to jailed or prosecuted HDP mayors, 95 mayors from the Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP) out of 102 in total were dismissed by the government, and most of them were prosecuted.

In 2016, a government trustee was appointed as the mayor of Van.

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