Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) on Aug. 25 removed the chairman and a member from the 24th Criminal Chamber of the Istanbul Regional Court of Appeals that is responsible for overseeing the appeal process for the sentence handed down to Istabul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu for the charge of "insulting the members of the Supreme Election Council (YSK)."
İmamoğlu on Dec. 14, 2022 received a verdict of 2 years and 7 months in prison, along with a political ban. His legal team appealed against this judgment.
With its decision, the HSK changed two names of the three-person committee that takes decisions by simple majority.
The review of the appeal by the 24th Criminal Chamber is still ongoing. With the recent change in the chamber, it is anticipated that the İmamoğlu case will be expedited. Following the appeal verdict, the case will be transferred to the 4th Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation for the final judgment, according to reporting by the Deutche Welle Turkish.
The ruling from the Court of Cassation will carry implications for İmamoğlu's political career as well. If the top court reaches a confirmation decision, İmamoğlu, who expressed intentions to run for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality once more in March 2024, will lose this opportunity.
İmamoğlu, who faced accusations of labeling members of the YSK as "idiots," clarified that he made this statement in response to former Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. He was standing trial for charges of "publicly insulting public officials serving as a committee due to their duties."
However, prior to the final hearing of the case, the presiding judge was involuntarily relocated from Istanbul to Samsun province and replaced by another judge. This newly assigned judge delivered the verdict in İmamoğlu's case during the last hearing.
On a separate note, İmamoğlu is concurrently facing trial at the Büyükçekmece 10th Criminal Court of First Instance on charges of "bid rigging" associated with his tenure as the Istanbul’s Beylikdüzü district municipality mayor. As per the decision of the HSK, a new judge has also been appointed to preside over this court.
It is not yet clear whether the new judge, who will handle current and future cases together with the former judge in this court, will take over İmamoğlu’s case.
İmamoğlu is one of the figures targeted frequently by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ever since his decisive victory in the Istanbul elections in 2019. Infuriated by losing Turkey's largest city to the main opposition, the AKP has been making İmamoğlu face investigations on bogus charges.