Turkish Prosecutors seek up to four-year jail term for Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu

AFP , Friday 28 May 2021

According to polls, Imamoglu is the strongest potential candidate against Erdogan in a presidential election expected in June 2023

Imamoglu
FILE PHOTO Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) addresses his supporters after taking office in Istanbul, Turkey, April 17, 2019 REUTERS

Turkish prosecutors are seeking a jail sentence of up to four years for the mayor of Istanbul, who is accused of having insulted public officials, local media reported Friday.

Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition party has been mayor since 2019, when he pulled off a major upset in local elections.

It was the first time in 25 years that the opposition had won against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- or its predecessor from an Islamic-rooted political movement that dominated in Istanbul.

Erdogan rejected the initial result in favour of Imamoglu in March 2019 and there was another vote in Istanbul for mayor in June. Imamoglu won the second vote by a landslide.

The Istanbul public prosecutor accuses Imamoglu of having insulted Turkey's top election body in November 2019 over the cancelled first result, the private DHA news agency said.

Imamoglu has rejected the charge in a written statement, the agency said, quoting the mayor as saying: "The discourse was political, it was strong political criticism."

The prosecutor has called for a prison term of between one year and four years on suspicion of "a series of public insults against officials because of their duties", the agency added.

Imamoglu faces several other investigations. Earlier this month, prosecutors launched a probe over his allegedly "disrespectful" behaviour during a visit to a shrine.

He also faces investigation over his opposition to Erdogan's flagship project creating an alternative to the Bosphorus strait, a major world shipping lane.

The allegation here is that public money was improperly spent on posters questioning Erdogan's project.

According to polls, Imamoglu is the strongest potential candidate against Erdogan in a presidential election expected in June 2023.

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