Prominent Turkish opposition official sentenced to nearly 10 years

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Canan Kaftancıoğlu

A Turkish court on Friday sentenced Canan Kaftancıoğlu, a prominent opposition official, to nine years, eight months in prison for insulting the president and spreading terrorist propaganda, Reuters reported.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) said Kaftancıoğlu, head of its İstanbul branch and one of the strongest opposition voices within the party, will not immediately go to jail pending appeal.

The indictment also accused Kaftancıoğlu of insulting the government and public servants, inciting hatred and enmity, mostly on the basis of tweets posted between 2012 and 2017.

Kaftancıoğlu played a significant role in municipal elections in Istanbul that saw the CHP take over the mayoralty, which had been held by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling party and its Islamist predecessors for the last 25 years.

Speaking outside Istanbul’s main courthouse following the verdict, Kaftancıoğlu said it would not silence her.

“Neither you all nor I deserved this. If the court ruling is not in line with the law and is shaped by the wishes of the political power, it means there is no law in this country,” she told reporters.

“The cases opened are concluded not in the courtrooms but in the rooms of the [presidential] palace,” she added. A crowd of supporters chanted, “Shoulder-to-shoulder against fascism.”

The appeals court will deliver a verdict within six months and then the decision can be appealed with the Supreme Court of Appeals, Turkey’s highest appeals court, the CHP said.

Since her appointment last year as the CHP’s provincial head, Kaftancıoğlu has been heavily criticized by members of Erdoğan’s party.

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