Ferhat Yaşar / DUVAR
A Turkish prosecutor on Nov. 11 demanded up to four years, one month in prison and a political ban in their final opinion for Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.
The indictment against İmamoğlu alleges that the mayor insulted 11 members of Turkey's High Election Board (YSK) while talking about the board's decision to annul and rerun the March 31, 2019 Istanbul mayoral election.
The YSK did not recognize İmamoğlu's initial victory in the 2019 local elections and ordered a repeat vote which the mayor again won with a bigger difference with his opponent the ruling AKP’s candidate Binali Yıldırım.
The case, which was adjourned till Dec. 14, could lead to a political ban for İmamoğlu if he were found guilty.
İmamoğlu should resign from the mayorship of Istanbul in case of a possible political ban. Due to the majority of the AKP members in the municipal assembly, the next mayor would be selected from the AKP.
The judge of the case claimed in the latest hearing that İmamoğlu said “idiot” directly to Soylu, rather than YSK members.
Then the lawyers of İmamoğlu demanded a refusal of the judge, stating that they did not believe that the judge was impartial. The judge denied the lawyers' request for refusal.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Nov. 4, 2019 said that “The idiot who went to the European Parliament and complained about Turkey. This nation will make you pay for this," referring to İmamoğlu.
In response, İmamoğlu said that “Those who cancel the election on March 31 are idiots,” referring to the YSK members who did not recognize İmamoğlu's initial victory.
Imamoğlu is tried for the alleged charge of “publicly insulting public officials working as a board due to their duties.”
The case was adjourned to Dec. 14.
Later, Gökhan Günaydın, İmamoğlu's lawyer, told Gazete Duvar that “The bias of the judge is very clear. The judge denied our request for removal.”
CHP Group Deputy chair Engin Altay said “It is a case that has disgraced Turkey to the world. In any case, we must defend democracy. It is clear that there will be a negative decision here. It will be a new beginning. It will be registered that the judiciary is corrupt.”
After the hearing, İmamoğlu said in a tweet "This is a case of justice and we will never give up this fight. We would like to thank the leaders of our political parties, our deputies, mayors, artists, journalists, intellectuals and all our citizens who supported me during this process."
Bu bir adalet davasıdır ve biz bu mücadeleden asla vazgeçmeyeceğiz. Bu süreçte destek mesajı paylaşan siyasi partilerimizin liderlerine ve yöneticilerine, milletvekillerimize, belediye başkanlarımıza, sanatçılara, gazetecilere, aydınlara ve tüm yurttaşlarımıza teşekkürler.— Ekrem İmamoğlu (@ekrem_imamoglu) November 11, 2022
İmamoğlu also said he was expecting an acquittal in the hearing.
İmamoğlu is one of the figures targeted frequently by 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.
Despite these attempts, İmamoğlu's job approval rate has been increasing while the AKP's votes have melted in Istanbul, according to various polls.
(English version by Alperen Şen)