Turkish prosecutors seek up to 870 years in prison for religious cult leader

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Turkish police officers escort televangelist and leader of a sect, Adnan Oktar (C) on July 11, 2018, in Istanbul, as he is arrested on fraud charges. Turkish police detained the televangelist on fraud charges on July 11, 2018, notorious for propagating conservative views while surrounded by scantily-clad women he refers to as his "kittens". / AFP PHOTO / DOGAN NEWS AGENCY /

İstanbul prosecutors have concluded their investigation into a religious cult led by Adnan Oktar, completing an indictment that demands up to 870 years in prison for its leader, the Diken news website reported on Friday.

According to the indictment Oktar is to face charges of espionage, establishing and leading a criminal network, sexual assault and extortion.

A total of 226 suspects were included in the investigation, 13 of whom are accused of having a leading role in the criminal network.

The prosecutors took the testimony of 125 plaintiffs who claimed to be victims and 23 others as witnesses.

The indictment was drafted by the chief public prosecutor’s office and sent to a high criminal court.

If approved by the court, the trial of the suspects is expected to begin in the coming days.

Oktar and 150 of his followers were first detained in July 2018. Oktar’s assets were seized the same day.

A controversial TV personality, Oktar used to mix theological discussions on air with visits from attractive young female devotees dubbed “kittens.”

He was best known for his strong advocacy for creationism, and many of his publications and televised discussions were aimed at refuting the theory of evolution.

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