An Ordu prosecutor has demanded a sentence of up to two years in prison for Ekrem İmamoğlu, the mayor of İstanbul from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on charges that he insulted former Ordu governor Seddar Yavuz, local media reported on Tuesday.
The sixth hearing of the trial took place on Tuesday at the Ordu 4th Criminal Court of First Instance. The next hearing is scheduled for March 17.
The case was filed against the mayor after he had a dispute with Yavuz, then-governor of Ordu, who reportedly ordered that İmamoğlu not be allowed into the airport’s VIP lounge for his departure flight on June 5, 2019. Then-mayoral candidate İmamoğlu was touring northeastern Black Sea provinces as part of his campaign for a repeat İstanbul mayoral election slated for June 23, 2019.
The incident turned into a heated exchange of words between İmamoğlu, his entourage, Yavuz, airport officials and the police, local media said.
Following the incident, Yavuz filed complaints with a prosecutor’s office, claiming that İmamoğlu had insulted him.
Ulaş Tepe, a district mayor of Ordu from the CHP, testified as a witness during the hearing.
“Ekrem İmamoğlu arrived in Ordu on the said date and held a meeting there. After visiting our municipality, he went on to Ordu-Giresun airport for his return flight to İstanbul. He was tired and hoarse [due to speaking loudly in the meeting]. I heard no insults from him during the exchange of words [between Yavuz and İmamoğlu],” Tepe said.
İmamoğlu’s bodyguard Mustafa Akın also said the mayor was misunderstood because he had lost his voice.
Insult cases are among the most commonly used tools used by the Turkish judiciary against critics of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, deeming any criticism of the president or his government an insult.