Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu is faced with six months to four years in prison for allegedly insulting a governor appointed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in an encounter at the Black Sea Ordu Airport in 2019.
The prosecutor asked for up to four years in prison on March 2 on the grounds that İmamoğlu allegedly said Governor Seddar Yavuz had "been a dog" because he wasn't allowing İmamoğlu to use a VIP lounge in the airport.
Eyewitnesses brought in by the prosecution reported hearing the mayor say the insults about Yavuz, but İmamoğlu's coworker Ulaş Tepe from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said the mayor had lost his voice that day.
"İmamoğlu came to Ordu the day of the incident, held a meeting and visited the municipality. Then when we went to the airport, he was tired and had lost his voice," Tepe said.
Tepe was right next to the mayor when he allegedly slurred an insult but didn't hear him say the alleged phrases to the governor, he added.
Meanwhile, the mayor's bodyguard Mustafa Akın said that İmamoğlu was misunderstood because he had lost his voice and that what eyewitnesses thought was him calling the governor a "dog" was him saying the governor's actions were "primitive," which could sound similar in Turkish.
Insult cases are also common tools used by the Turkish judiciary against critics of the government, deeming any criticism of the president or his government an insult.