Turkey’s youngest mayor sentenced after being identified as stone thrower
DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News Agency
Rezan Zuğurli became Turkey’s youngest ever mayor after winning the March 30 elections from the ranks of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) with co-candidate Harun Erkuş, taking a record 91 percent of the votes.A court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır has issued the detailed ruling regarding the prison sentence given to Rezan Zuğurli, stating that the 25-year-old, who was elected as the co-mayor of the Lice district in March, was found guilty as she was identified as a demonstrator captured in camera footage throwing stones at the police.
Zuğurli, a student who became Turkey’s youngest ever mayor after winning the March 30 elections from the ranks of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) with co-candidate Harun Erkuş with a record 91 percent of the votes, received a sentence of four years and two months in jail last May for participating in three rallies in 2010 and 2011.
The Diyarbakır 2nd High Criminal Court stated in its detailed ruling issued July 14 that Zuğurli’s features, such as her eyebrows and the gap between her nose and upper lip, resembled those of a protester caught by security cameras throwing stones to the police.
“It has been ruled that an individual with a blue jean and a khaki hoodie who was among a group of people hiding their faces with pieces of cloth or masks and throwing stones at the security forces without chanting slogans, making victory signs or holding anything with separatist content resembled Zuğurli. [Zuğurli’s] features, such as the eyebrows, eyes, nose, gap between the nose and upper lip, lips and cheekbones, with the person on the footage, who threw stones at the police twice, were found similar,” an expert report referred to in the detailed ruling said.
In the ruling, the court also claimed demonstrators acted in line with instructions given by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and added Zuğurli’s defense was eventually “disregarded.”
“It is clear the defendant participated in the demonstration and threw stones at the police in line with the PKK’s goal and calls. As it was understood the defendant was trying to avoid the charges, her defense was disregarded,” the ruling said.
Zuğurli had been found guilty on charges of committing crimes “on behalf of the PKK,” even while admitting she was not a member of the group. Her lawyers had filed an appeal following the ruling on May 7.
A previous ruling sentencing Zuğurli to five years in prison on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization” was overturned by the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals, prompting her release after 13 months of detention.
During her campaign, Zuğurli had told constituents that despite being new to formal politics, she had lived within politics due to the judicial imbroglio in which she was involved.