A local court has ordered Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), to pay President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his relatives a total of TL 489,000 ($28,165) in damages for his allegations that they had secretly transferred money to an offshore company based in the Isle of Man, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Wednesday.
According to Anadolu, two separate decisions by the Anadolu 20th Criminal Court of First Instance ordered Kılıçdaroğlu to pay TL 489,000 ($28,165) in total in damages relating to the allegations.
The CHP leader alleged in a parliamentary group meeting in November 2017 that in 2011 a group including Erdoğan and his relatives had made transfers amounting to $18 million to an offshore company based in the Isle of Man, a tax haven. He produced SWIFT codes and bank receipts to back up his claims.
The allegations resulted in Kılıçdaroğlu being sued for damages by Erdoğan and his close circle.
An initial court decision in November 2019 imposing a larger amount of damages was overturned by an appeals court, with its members reportedly coming under political pressure afterward, with some members even being denied their right to leave without pay.
The case was heard again in 2020, and the court ordered Kılıçdaroğlu to pay Erdoğan and his relatives a total of TL 359,000 ($20,677) in damages for the offshore wealth claims.
Back in January, the decision was overturned again, this time by Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals, which sent the case back to the local court for retrial.
The Anadolu 20th Criminal Court of First Instance on Wednesday again ordered Kılıçdaroğlu to pay TL 150,000 to Erdoğan; TL 60,000 to the legal heirs of Özdemir Bayraktar, the late father-in-law of Erdoğan’s daughter Sümeyye; TL 22,000 to each of his daughters, Esra Albayrak and Sümeyye Erdoğan Bayraktar; TL 20,000 to his son Necmeddin Bilal Erdoğan; TL 16,000 to his other son Ahmet Burak Erdoğan; TL 15,000 to his brother Mustafa Erdoğan; TL 14,000 each to his uncle Ziya İlgen and Sadık Albayrak, the father-in-law of his daughter Esra; and TL 13,000 to each of his sons’ fathers-in-law, Orhan Uzuner and Osman Ketenci, Anadolu said.
The court also ordered Kılıçdaroğlu to pay Erdoğan TL 130,000 ($7,487) in damages in a separate case that was launched against the CHP leader for repeating some of his allegations during his party’s group meeting in February 2018.
This decision of the court also came after the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a similar ruling delivered by it in February 2018, sending the case for retrial.
The Turkish president, whose Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been ruling Turkey as a single-party government since 2002, is frequently accused of wasting taxpayers’ money and making his cronies rich through the use of public resources at a time of increased poverty among Turks.
Critics also accuse Erdoğan of establishing one-man rule in the country by jailing his critics and silencing opposition media.