ISTANBUL — A prosecutor on Friday repeated a requirement for Istanbul’s mayor to be convicted on expenses of insulting members of Turkey’s Supreme Electoral Council, through the third listening to of a trial critics allege is an try to take away a key opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the political scene.
Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a member of the opposition Republican Folks’s Occasion, faces as much as 4 years in jail if discovered responsible of the cost and is also barred from holding workplace.
Imamoglu was elected to steer Turkey’s largest metropolis in March 2019. His win was a historic blow to Erdogan’s Justice and Improvement Occasion, which had managed Istanbul for a quarter-century. The get together pushed to void the municipal election ends in the town of 16 million, alleging irregularities.
The problem resulted in a repeat of the election just a few months later. Imamoglu gained once more — that point with a snug majority.
His trial relies on accusations that he insulted members of the electoral council when he described canceling legit elections as “foolishness” on Nov. 4, 2019.
The mayor denies insulting members of the council, insisting his phrases have been a response to Inside Minister Suleyman Soylu calling him “a idiot” and accusing Imamoglu of criticizing Turkey throughout a go to to the European Parliament.
Gulsah Ince, a reporter for Turkey’s Fox TV, testified as a protection witness throughout Friday’s listening to. She informed the court docket that Imamoglu made the assertion after she requested him to reply to Soylu calling him “a idiot,” the Halk TV information channel and different media reported.
A request for the court docket to listen to two extra protection witnesses was rejected.
Requested to ship his closing argument within the trial, the prosecutor renewed his demand that Imamoglu be convicted of the cost, sentenced and barred from holding workplace, in keeping with Halk TV.
The trial was then adjourned till Dec. 14 to provide Imamoglu’s legal professionals time to arrange their closing protection arguments and for authorities to overview their request for the panel of judges to be discharged and changed for alleged bias.
Authorities critics regard the trial as an try to stop the favored mayor from operating towards Erdogan in presidential and parliamentary elections at the moment scheduled for June 2023.
If convicted, Imamoglu may lose his submit as mayor and get replaced by somebody near Erdogan’s ruling get together.
Imamoglu, who did not attend the listening to, later informed reporters that he was “shocked” and “saddened” by the prosecutor’s request.
“I might have anticipated acquittal and for this trial to finish at this time,” he mentioned.
He added: “Might Allah defend our nation and its folks from hurt from individuals who haven’t any conscience, no morals, no justice.”
A number of mayors from the pro-Kurdish Folks’s Democratic Occasion, or HDP, who have been additionally elected in 2019, have been faraway from workplace over alleged hyperlinks to Kurdish militants and changed by state-appointed trustees.
Dozens of HDP lawmakers and 1000’s of get together members have been arrested on terror-related accusations as a part of a authorities crackdown on the get together.
Suzan Fraser reported from Ankara.