Serbia’s Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling to extradite Kurdish political activist Ecevit Piroğlu to Turkey, daily Özgür Politika reported.
Turkey’s allegations against the activist were “unlawful, removed from concrete facts and lacked evidence”, while the lower court that ruled in favour of the extradition lacked sufficient evidence, Özgür Politika reported, citing the court ruling.
Wednesday’s hearing was the third time the court handled Piroğlu’s case, having overturned two previous rulings by lower courts.
Piroğlu was arrested in 2021 on an outstanding INTERPOL warrant, and released on parole in January this year. Shortly after his release, he was charged with forgery over ID documents in his possession and was sent back to prison.
On Thursday, the forgery case concluded with the lower court issuing a one-year prison sentence to Piroğlu.
“This is one of the judicial ploys by [Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] against the political opposition being executed by the Serbian judiciary,” activists from the Freedom for Piroğlu Initiative told reporters. “The prison sentence in this conspiracy case is revenge for our united fight and international solidarity.”
Piroğlu is expected to serve seven more months in prison, where he is held in a ward with petty criminals who do not speak any languages the activist speaks, according to German politician and member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Andrej Hunko. The PACE member also believes forgery charges were “trumped up to keep him behind bars longer”.
Piroğlu is a former director for the Human Rights Association (İHD) in Turkey, and was arrested in 2013 after the massive anti-government protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. He later travelled to Syria to fight alongside Kurdish forces against the jihadist Islamic State (ISIS). Upon his arrival in Serbia, he had applied for asylum.