Turkish court docket sentences Erdogan rival to jail with political ban – EURACTIV.com


A Turkish court docket sentenced Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu to jail on Wednesday (14 December) and imposed a political ban on the opposition politician who’s seen as a robust potential challenger to President Tayyip Erdoğan in elections subsequent 12 months.

İmamoğlu was sentenced to 2 years and 7 months in jail together with the ban, each of which have to be confirmed by an appeals court docket, for insulting public officers in a speech he made after he received Istanbul’s municipal election in 2019.

Riot police had been stationed exterior the courthouse on the Asian facet of the town of 17 million folks, though İmamoğlu continued to work as regular and dismissed the court docket proceedings.

At his municipal headquarters throughout the Bosphorus on the European facet of Istanbul, he advised 1000’s of supporters that the decision marked a “profound unlawfulness” that “proved that there isn’t a justice in immediately’s Turkey”.

Voters would reply in presidential and parliamentary elections that are due by subsequent June, he mentioned.

The vote might mark the largest political problem but for Erdoğan, who’s looking for to increase his rule into a 3rd decade within the face of a collapsing foreign money and rampant inflation which have pushed the price of dwelling for Turks ever greater.

A six-party opposition alliance has but to agree their presidential candidate, and İmamoğlu has been mooted as a potential main challenger to run towards Erdoğan.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, chairman of İmamoğlu’s opposition Republican Folks’s Celebration (CHP), mentioned he was chopping brief a go to to Germany and returning to Turkey in response to what he known as a “grave violation of the legislation and justice”.

The US State Division is “deeply troubled and disillusioned” by the sentence, Division principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel mentioned. “This unjust sentence is inconsistent with respect for human rights, with respect to elementary freedoms and rule of legislation,” he added.

‘Very unhappy day’

The European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey, Nacho Sanchez Amor, expressed disbelief on the “inconceivable” verdict.

“Justice in #Turkey is in a calamitous state, grossly used for political functions. Very unhappy day,” he tweeted.

İmamoğlu was tried over a speech after Istanbul elections when he mentioned those that annulled the preliminary vote – through which he narrowly defeated a candidate from Erdoğan’s AK Celebration – had been “fools”. İmamoğlu says that comment was a response to Inside Minister Suleyman Soylu for utilizing the identical language towards him.

After the preliminary outcomes had been annulled, he received the re-run vote comfortably, ending the 25-year rule in Turkey’s largest metropolis by the AKP and its Islamist predecessors.

The end result of subsequent 12 months’s elections is seen hinging on the power of the CHP and others in opposition to affix forces round a single candidate to problem Erdoğan and the AKP, which has ruled Turkey since 2002.

Erdoğan, who additionally served as Istanbul mayor earlier than rising to dominate Turkish nationwide politics, was briefly jailed in 1999 for reciting a poem {that a} court docket dominated was an incitement to non secular hatred.

Selahattin Demirtas, the jailed former chief of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Celebration (HDP), tweeted that İmamoğlu needs to be incarcerated in the identical jail the place Erdoğan was held in order that he might in the end comply with his path to the presidency.

A jail sentence or political ban on İmamoğlu would should be upheld in appeals courts, doubtlessly extending an consequence to the case past the elections date.

Critics say Turkish courts bend to Erdoğan’s will. The federal government says the judiciary is unbiased.

“The ruling will probably be remaining solely after the upper court docket decides whether or not to uphold the ruling or not. Below these circumstances, it could be improper to say that the political ban is in place,” Timucin Koprulu, professor of prison legislation at Atilim College in Ankara, advised Reuters after the ruling.

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