Turkish opposition politician sentenced for 'insulting' Erdogan

Indictment accused Kaftancioglu of insulting the government and public servants and 'spreading terrorist propaganda'.

    Kaftancioglu said her trial was aimed at 'punishing Istanbul' [File: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP]
    Kaftancioglu said her trial was aimed at 'punishing Istanbul' [File: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP]

    A Turkish court has sentenced a prominent opposition official to nine years and eight months in prison for "insulting" the president and "spreading terrorist propaganda".

    The indictment, delivered on Friday, also accused Canan Kaftancioglu, a member of the Republican People's Party (CHP), of insulting the government and public servants, inciting hatred and enmity, mostly on the basis of tweets posted between 2012 and 2017. 

    Kaftancioglu had denied the accusations and insisted her trial was politically motivated. 

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    "The decisions are not taken in the courts, but in the [presidential] palace," she told hundreds of supporters outside the court after the judgement.

    A crowd of supporters who gathered outside the courtroom chanted: "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism."

    The tweets used by the prosecution against Kaftancioglu included one in which she criticised the death of a 14-year-old boy hit by a tear gas grenade during the mass "Gezi Park" protests of 2013. 

    Her tweets also criticised the response of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government to the 2016 coup attempt.

    The CHP said Kaftancioglu will not immediately go to jail pending appeals.

    'Punishing Istanbul' 

    Kaftancioglu, head of the CHP's Istanbul branch, played a key role in the shock victory of the CHP's new Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu earlier this year - the first time Erdogan's party lost power in Turkey's largest city in nearly two decades.

    Imamoglu's first election victory in March by a slim margin was annulled by the Supreme Electoral Council and a second election was announced for June, after controversial claims of rigging by President Erdogan and his Justice and Development (AK) Party.

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    Imamoglu went on to win the rerun vote in which he beat his AKP opponent by a near 10-point margin.

    "This trial is aimed at punishing Istanbul and those who helped the victory of the people of Istanbul. I will never give up my ideas and my convictions. They think they can scare us but we will continue to speak," Kaftancioglu said.

    Speaking to reporters in the city of Izmir, Imamoglu said he believed the verdict would be overturned at appeal.

    "Despite everything, our Turkey has judges who will make the right decision on this issue," he said.

    "Personally, I will support Canan until the end, as my provincial chairwoman and as my comrade."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies