İstanbul’s popular mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, who was convicted of insulting election authority officials in December, is now facing charges of insulting a district mayor in İstanbul from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the T24 news website reported.
An indictment drafted by İstanbul prosecutors is seeking a prison sentence of up to two years in addition to a political ban for İmamoğlu, who is from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on charges of “insulting a public official.”
According to the indictment, İmamoğlu insulted Tuzla district mayor Şadi Yazıcı, who was booed by people at the inauguration ceremony of a wastewater treatment plant in Tuzla on Oct. 25, 2022.
İmamoğlu, who was delivering a speech at the time of the protest, is accused of not comporting himself in a manner befitting his position and making remarks that escalated the incident.
“That friend has come here to create tension. He continues to be provocative. Bad words describe the people who use them,” İmamoğlu is quoted as saying in the indictment.
The Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into İmamoğlu based on a complaint from the mayor.
İmamoğlu, who testified to the prosecutors, said he tried several times to calm the protestors and did not insult the mayor.
He said there was no need to explain further because the accusations against him were politically motivated. İmamoğlu, who denied the charges against him, asked the prosecutors to find that there are no grounds for further investigation.
The new case comes after a court in December banned İmamoğlu, one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Erdoğan’s most internationally recognized rivals, from politics for insult charges in a case stemming from his 2019 victory in İstanbul, which was initially annulled.
İmamoğlu was given a prison sentence of almost three years under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and a political ban under Article 53 of the TCK.
The case stemmed from an offhand remark against election officials İmamoğlu made to reporters a few months after defeating Erdoğan’s ally in a re-run election held after his first victory was annulled.
He can continue to serve as mayor while the appeals process winds its way through the courts.
His office also faces a “terrorism” probe by the Interior Ministry, and in yet another case charges of engaging in fraud in public tenders when he was a district mayor in İstanbul between April 2014 and April 2019.
The cases led to the sidelining of İmamoğlu as a potential candidate in May’s presidential election, when Erdoğan won a victory against CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who was the joint candidate of the opposition.
It was believed that İmamoğlu had a chance of ending Erdoğan’s two-decade rule, but he was not nominated by the opposition alliance due to the political ban and cases he is facing.
Many people said Erdoğan managed to get his most challenging rival out of the presidential race by using his influence over the judiciary to punish İmamoğlu on politically motivated charges.