A Turkish court has sentenced main opposition CHP's Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu to two years and seven months in prison and imposed a political ban on him. İmamoğlu was accused of "insulting" members of Turkey's election board during a speech in November 2019.
İmamoğlu, Istanbul’s mayor from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), was accused of insulting 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 in which İmamoğlu won again with a larger difference against his opponent AKP’s Binali Yıldırım.
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.”
Imamoğlu was tried for the alleged charge of “publicly insulting public officials working as a board due to their duties.” He rejected the claims, saying that his remark was against Soylu, not YSK members.
In addition to the prison sentence, the court ruled to apply the Article 53 of Turkish Penal Code which includes “deprivation of the exercise of certain rights,” meaning that a political ban will be imposed on İmamoğlu.
If the decision is finalized in the higher courts, then İmamoğlu will have to resign from the mayorship of Istanbul. Due to the majority of the ruling AKP members in the municipal assembly, the next mayor would be selected from the AKP. Moreover, İmamoğlu will not be allowed to run for an office.
After the court’s decision, İmamoğlu called every Istanbulites to come to the municipality building at 4pm to support him.
Today's verdict is an attack on the will of millions of Istanbulites who democratically elected a mayor for their city three years ago.
But nothing ends here. We will be meeting our fellow city residents outside municipality building at 16:00 tomorrow.” he said in a tweet.