A Turkish prosecutor on Tuesday indicted former co-mayors of Van province from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) demanding between two and four years of imprisonment for malpractice by operating as co-mayors despite the fact that it was against the law, the Diken news website reported.
The Van 5th Penal Court of First Instance accepted the indictment.
Bekir Kaya and Hatice Çoban were elected as co-mayors in the 2014 local elections and served until the government appointed a trustee in 2016 after Kaya’s detention over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Although Turkey adopted the system of co-chairmanship in political parties in 2013, as part of a peace initiative launched by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to end the Kurdish problem that has loomed over the country for decades, in 2016 the Interior Ministry launched an investigation into Kaya and Çoban for serving as co-mayors.
The ministry claimed the law only concerns political party management and does not refer to municipal affairs.
The official documents signed by Çoban as co-mayor were disputed by the local governor’s office as illegal, and a local court ruled that she could not use the title in legal documents.
The ministry’s inspectors reported that although Çoban stopped signing official documents, she continued to use the title with the media and on the municipality’s website.
The Kurdish HDP, which nominated co-mayors for the race, won three major cities, four smaller cities, 50 districts and 11 towns in local elections on March 31.