16.1 C
Frankfurt am Main

Judges at appeals court who were to rule on conviction of İstanbul mayor replaced

Must read

Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has replaced two judges who were to hear an appeal filed by İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu of a prison sentence and a political ban handed down to him at trial last year, Deutsche Welle Turkish edition reported.

İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and a key opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was sentenced to two years, seven months in prison and barred from politics in December 2022 for allegedly insulting members of Turkey’s Supreme Election Board (YSK).

İmamoğlu appealed his sentence and the political ban, which he called politically motivated.

A panel of three judges at the 24th Criminal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Appeals Court was to hear the appeal filed by İmamoğlu. The presiding judge, Sezai Öztürk, as well as another member, Rüştü Yamak, were replaced by the HSK in a surprise move on Thursday. The court makes its rulings based on an absolute majority.

The board had also replaced the presiding judge in İmamoğlu’s insult trial shortly before the court made its ruling, with the new judge in favor of conviction.

Hüseyin Zengin, who was the chief judge in the mayor’s trial before he was replaced, told confidants that he had been advised by some prosecutors to sentence the mayor to over two years in prison and ban him from politics, according to journalist Barış Terkoğlu from the Cumhuriyet daily.

The independence of the judiciary is a controversial issue in Turkey since the government is accused of taking the judiciary under its control and punishing members in various ways who make decision against its interests.

Following the regional appeals court’s decision, İmamoğlu’s case will be sent to the 4th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals for a final decision, which will determine İmamoğlu’s future in politics.

If the Supreme Appeals Court upholds İmamoğlu’s conviction, he will not be able to run in the local elections of March 2024 nor will he able to compete for the leadership of the main opposition CHP.

The possibility of a higher court upholding the sentence effectively ruled him out of running against President Erdoğan in the May presidential election.

He is seen as a possible CHP chairman in the future as the party’s current chair, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, faces calls for resignation due to his loss to Erdoğan in the presidential election.

İmamoğlu revealed his intention at a news conference earlier this month to run for mayor of İstanbul again, although he fell short of officially announcing his candidacy.

The 52-year-old ended the yearslong 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 a rerun election by a larger margin than the first, which had been canceled due to supposed irregularities.

Liked it? Take a second to support Turkish Minute on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!
More News
Latest News