ISTANBUL (Realist English). Opposition politician and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has been sentenced to two years, seven months and fifteen days in prison for “insulting” Turkish officials.
İmamoğlu intends to appeal the verdict, his lawyer Kemal Polat told AFP. According to the human rights activist, the politician will retain his post of mayor while the appeal is being considered. If the verdict is confirmed on appeal, “the ban on political activity will be for the same period as the sentence imposed,” the lawyer explained.
“A handful of people must not usurp power entrusted to them by the people. Our struggle resumes with even greater force,” İmamoğlu said after the verdict was announced.
The 52-year-old mayor was considered as the main potential candidate in the presidential elections in June 2023 against the leader of the Turkish regime, Recep Erdoğan. İmamoğlu, representing the Republican People’s Party of Turkey (CHP), was charged for his speech in March 2019 addressed to the candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The politician came to the regime’s attention after he inflicted a humiliating defeat on Erdoğan‘s party in March 2019, winning the post of mayor of Istanbul, a city ruled by the AKP for 25 years.
The protocols on his election were first canceled by the government, but three months later the authorities retreated under the onslaught of the opposition electorate. Subsequently, İmamoğlu called those who invalidated his election victory “idiots”, for which a member of the AKP sued him.
“I just replied to the Minister of the Interior, who called me an idiot,” explained the mayor of Istanbul.
İmamoğlu is one of the few opposition leaders who is defeating Erdoğan in the opinion polls. Nevertheless, the leader of the CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, according to many observers, would prefer to run himself.