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Prosecutor appeals conviction in İstanbul mayor’s ‘insult’ case, saying sentence inadequate

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A Turkish prosecutor has appealed the conviction in the controversial trial of İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, arguing that a prison sentence of more than two years and a political ban are not enough punishment for insulting public officials, local media reported on Friday.

The İstanbul Anatolia 7th High Criminal Court on Wednesday sentenced İmamoğlu, a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and a key opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to two years, seven months and 15 days in prison and barred him from politics for allegedly insulting members of Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK).

The sentence and the political ban must be upheld by an appeals court after a petition is filed.

Turkish media reports on Friday said, citing İstanbul Municipality spokesperson Murat Ongun, that the prosecutor had appealed the conviction in the mayor’s case in an upper court less than 24 hours after it was announced.

“The prosecutor … appealed the decision in a higher court. According to legal experts, the prosecutor found the punishment given [to İmamoğlu] insufficient,” Ongun said in a tweet.

Considering that the verdict could see İmamoğlu ousted from office and prevented from running in the 2023 elections, opposition parties argue that the mayor’s prosecution and trial were an attempt to eliminate a key opponent to Erdoğan, under whose increasingly authoritarian rule they question the independence of the judiciary.

İmamoğlu ended the years-long Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule in İstanbul when he defeated the AKP’s mayoral candidate twice in the local elections of 2019. He won the rerun election by a larger margin than the first, which had been canceled due to supposed irregularities.

The İstanbul mayor was tried for a speech in which he said those who annulled the initial 2019 vote were “fools.” However, İmamoğlu said at the first hearing in January that his remarks, which were in response to a question from a reporter, were not aimed at the YSK officials but at Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who in an earlier statement used the same word against him.

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