İstanbul’s popular mayor, Ekrem İmamoğlu, has been acquitted of charges of insulting a district mayor in the city from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Diken news website reported.
The Anadolu 16th Penal Court of First Instance ruled on Sept. 6 that İmamoğlu’s remarks about Tuzla District Mayor Şadi Yazıcı at an inauguration ceremony in October 2022 were political criticism and not insult.
An indictment drafted by İstanbul prosecutors sought 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 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 disturbance, was accused of failing to comport 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 was quoted as saying in the indictment.
The Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched the investigation into İmamoğlu based on a complaint from Yazıcı.
İmamoğlu, who testified to 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 were no grounds for further investigation.
The new case came after a court in December banned İmamoğlu, one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Erdoğan’s most 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.