Prosecutors in Turkey on Wednesday demanded life sentences for eight people accused of declaring self-governance in Mardin province located on Turkey’s southeastern border with Syria.
They are accused of “Performing acts aimed at undermining the state's independence and unity," according to the indictment.
The defendants include the co-mayor of Mardin's Nusaybin district, a Kurdish-majority city that lies across the border from an area controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria.
PYD is a group closely affiliated with the outlawed PKK which has been fighting against Turkey for over three decades, seeking a separatist agenda.
The call for “aggravated life sentences” came as the court in Mardin approved the indictment against Nusaybin Mayor, Sara Kaya and seven others who were arrested in late August.
Under Turkish law, the requested sentence offers no chance of parole or privileges. If convicted, the defendants can expect to remain behind bars for the rest of their lives.
Kaya was previously charged with being a member of the outlawed PKK.
“The suspects have a hierarchical structure within the organization and adequate evidence proves they are member of the organization,” the indictment claimed.
On Aug. 12, the PKK issued a call to “people's assemblies” in parts of Turkey’s southeast to declare self-governance. The group said the assemblies, “Would not recognize state institutes as of now and would form their own self-governance”.
Self-governing areas were declared in Nusaybin as well as towns across southeastern provinces of Sirnak, Hakkari and Mus.
Six of the defendants -- Kaya, Zeynep Algan, Muhsin Kaya, Salih Cebe, Erhan Dinc, Sabiha Akgunduz -- are in custody and awaiting trial while the other two have been released until the trial.