Turkish justice sentences the mayor of Istanbul, the opposition Ekrem Imamoglu, to 2 and a half years in prison

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  • Imamoglu, one of the front-runners to fight Erdogan in the spring presidential elections, has also been “banned from participating in politics” during the time of his sentence

  • The mayor of the great Turkish metropolis has been sentenced for “having insulted” the members of the Turkish electoral committee three years ago, during the repetition of the local elections in Istanbul

Turkish justice sentences the mayor of Istanbul, the opposition Ekrem Imamoglu, to 2 and a half years in prison

The story began early. with a number: 13.729. This was the vote difference with which the government party of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the AKP, lost the position. Istanbul in the 2019 local elections. It was the first time it had happened since 1994.

But the party didn't accept it, they said there were indications of fraud, that the margin was too small and that the margin was too small. —in a city of 17 million— and that the elections had to be repeated. The committee of electoral accepted it. The opposition candidate —the winner of that vote— he called “stupids” to the members of that committee in response to the Turkish Interior Minister, who called him “stupid.”

It didn't matter: in In the replay of the election, Ekrem Imamoglu swept away Erdogan's candidate and became Istanbul's first opposition mayor in 25 years, the previous one having been nothing more and nothing less. that Recep Tayyip Erdogan

This story, however, has turned upside down this Wednesday. Imamoglu has been sentenced to two years, seven months and 15 days in jail, and a ban on participating in politics for his words from three years ago. In Turkey, politicians from the government and the opposition insult each other and come to blows constantly. This June, for example, Erdogan cataloged of “rotten and prostitutes” to the people who participated in the Gezi protests in 2013.

Since coming to power in Istanbul, Imamoglu has become a star of the Turkish opposition and is a fixture in bets to be the candidate to face Erdogan in the presidential elections spring of next year. According to all the polls, in fact, Imamoglu would beat Erdogan in those elections. Since 2003, the Turkish president has been the leader of the country; first as prime minister and, since 2014, as president.

Despite the sentence, the current mayor of Istanbul will not lose his position. Neither his position nor will he enter directly. He will go to jail in the next few days. Imamoglu, has explained the party of him, to appeal & aacute; the decision of the court, which will have It must be ratified in a higher court. 

According to several Lawyers consulted by this newspaper, the review of a case of the magnitude of this is done within a period, generally, between one and two years. Many believe, however, that the process will be easy. accelerated and that the firm sentence will be the same. It was announced before the spring elections so that Imamoglu could not be a candidate or participate in the election campaign.

A story that rhymes

The sentence this Wednesday against the mayor of Istanbul is not the first in Turkey. Previously, another mayor of the big metropolis —which is seen as a political springboard in the Anatolian country— he was sentenced two decades ago for a similar crime. 

It is about the current Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who spent time in prison. He served four months in prison in 1999 for having recited a poem that was interpreted by a hostile judicial system as “hate speech strong>”. 

Erdogan also received an award. then the prohibition to participate in politics. That didn't stop him. He founded his current formation, the AKP, which won a prize. the parliamentary elections in 2002. Erdogan, because of that ban, could not ascend to the position of prime minister until 2003.