The mayor of Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, was handed a two-year and seven-month prison term by a Turkish court on Wednesday for insulting the country’s Supreme Electoral Council.
In addition to finding Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu guilty, the court also placed him under a political gag order that could result in his resignation. Imamoglu, a member of the Republican People’s Party, the main opposition party, is anticipated to challenge the judgement.
The mayor’s trial was allegedly intended to get rid of a significant opponent of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to critics. A presidential election is anticipated in Turkey the following year.
Imamoglu was chosen to serve as Istanbul’s mayor in March 2019. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, which had ruled Istanbul for 25 years, suffered a historic defeat as a result of his victory. Due to alleged anomalies, the 16 million-person city’s municipal election results were challenged by the party.
A few months later, the election was redone as a result of the challenge, and Imamoglu again prevailed.
After calling the cancellation of valid elections an act of “foolishness” on November 4, 2019, Imamoglu was charged with insulting senior public officials.
The mayor insisted that his statements were a response to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu labelling him “a fool” and accused Imamoglu of disparaging Turkey during a visit to the European Parliament. He denied insulting the members of the electoral council.
(With inputs from agencies)