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Former main opposition leader faces prison for insulting Erdoğan’s son

Bilal Erdoğan (L), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

Turkish prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of up to two years for the former leader of the country’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on charges of insulting one of the sons of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu faces the charges due to statements he made about Bilal Erdoğan during a rally in the northern province of Amasya in January 2014.

The indictment was drafted by the Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in İstanbul based on a criminal complaint Bilal Erdoğan filed through his lawyer.

Kılıçdaroğlu no longer has parliamentary immunity and can be prosecuted as a regular citizen. He was not elected to parliament in the May general election since he was running as a presidential candidate against President Erdoğan. He lost the race and was voted out of party leadership in November.

Kılıçdaroğlu reportedly submitted a written defense to the prosecutors about the charges.

The former CHP leader could face a prison sentence of between three months and two years if convicted.

In the 2014 speech Kılıçdaroğlu talked about the corruption investigations of December 2013 in which then-prime minister Erdoğan’s close circle was implicated. He accused Erdoğan and his family of involvement in corruption and of labelling the investigations as a “coup” against himself in order to cover up the graft allegations.

He also talked about a pro-government foundation, Service for Youth and Education Foundation of Turkey (TÜRGEV), an organization in which Bilal Erdoğan is an executive board member. Kılıçdaroğlu claimed that the elder Erdoğan had a zoning permit issued to a businessman for a piece of valuable land in İstanbul on the condition that the businessman donate another piece of land he owned in İstanbul to TÜRGEV. Kılıçdaroğlu claimed this was bribery and nepotism.

“What kind of privilege does your son have? His privilege is that he’s the head of a center for bribe collection. That foundation is a place where money obtained through bribery and corruption is collected,” said Kılıçdaroğlu referring to TÜRGEV.

The December 17-25 bribery and corruption investigations shook the country in 2013. The probe implicated the family members of four cabinet ministers as well as the children of then-prime minister and current president Erdoğan.

The December 17-25 investigations led to the resignation of four Cabinet ministers, to which Erdoğan responded by claiming that the corruption scandal was fabricated by sympathizers of the Gülen movement within the police department with the aim of overthrowing his government.

The Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by the views of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, denied the claims.

Hundreds of police officers and members of the judiciary were detained and some arrested for alleged illegal activity in the course of the corruption investigations.

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