A Kurdish political prisoner, nearing release, faced renewed charges by the same prosecutor who allegedly awaited three years to re-arrest him just days before his freedom in Turkey. Abdullah Zoraslan, initially imprisoned for eight years and nine months on charges of ‘membership in a terrorist organisation’, faced renewed prosecution just three days before his expected release. The re-arrest has led to a sentence six times longer than the original.
The saga began on 16 March 2016, when Zoraslan was shot 13 times in a street attack in Bağlar (Rêzan) district of Kurdish-majority Diyarbakir (Amed) province. Despite surviving the attack and undergoing multiple surgeries, he was detained upon his hospital discharge and charged with terrorism-related offences.
The prosecution, led by the Diyarbakir Republic Prosecutor’s Office, argued that Zoraslan was the person behind the “Brusk Amed” alias, based on previous evidence and new witness testimonies. However, during the trial, Zoraslan defended himself, stating that the photographs depicting him in rural areas were actually taken during a festival in his village, Sise, and that his hospital entry under his cousin’s identity was due to economic constraints and lack of health insurance.
Moreover, Zoraslan contested the legitimacy of the fingerprints found on alleged organisational documents, suggesting they could have come from stationery he distributed while working in a pharmacy. Despite his defence and witnesses denying knowing Zoraslan, he received a prison sentence of over eight and a half years.
On the brink of his release, Zoraslan was brought back to court under a pre-existing investigation file. Surprisingly, the same prosecutor who had prepared the initial indictment against him used the same evidence to press new charges. Zoraslan revealed a shocking claim in court, alleging that the prosecutor had told him, “I have been waiting for three years to re-arrest you three days before your release.”
His attorney argued that the repeated trial based on similar charges was legally inconsistent, citing Article 223/7 of the Criminal Procedure Law, which should result in case dismissal if there’s a prior verdict for the same incident.
Despite these arguments, on 14 December 2023, the court convicted Zoraslan of “attempting to disrupt the unity of the state and national integrity”, sentencing him to an aggravated life sentence, plus 17 years and six months for violation of the Firearms Law, and an additional five years and 15 months for possessing unauthorised hazardous materials, totalling 53 years and 9 months in prison.