Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has been won by main opposition Republican People’s Party twice in 2019; during the election process the party has shown a very different communications campaign strategy & method compared to previous years, which has immensely contributed to the party’s results. Behind this win is also the name of party’s Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu who has been the target of many smear campaigns during election period. A court case has been opened against Kaftancıoğlu with accusation of “propagating terrorism”, “insult to President Erdoğan”, “insult to Republic of Turkey” for which she has been sentenced to 9 years 8 months and 20 days in prison.
CHP Istanbul chair Kaftancıoğlu appeared before court again on today, for the third hearing in her trial. CHP vice chair Muharrem Erkek said “this is a trial of revenge.” CHP Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu also arrived at Istanbul Çağlayan Courthouse to observe Canan Kaftancıoğlu’s trial.
Kaftancıoğlu said “I would never insult the president. No matter who might say what, no one shall even dare to insult anyone sitting on the same chair that founder of our republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk once sat.” CHP Istanbul chair’s lawyer, “the report that caused our client to become a suspect in this case is prepared through baseless unlawful evidence. There is no evidence that our client has incited people to violence or hatred. The indictment is invalid. Having a trial based on this indictment is unlawful. It seems you are devising a new law; through laws you are creating a position called ‘risk of danger’ and try to put her on trial.”
VERDICT: PRISON SENTENCE
During the hearing, Kaftancıoğlu asked for permission to speak, “no matter what the verdict is, I will never forsake my thoughts and words. Because ‘he’ has lost and ‘we’ have won!” CHP Istanbul chair Canan Kaftancıoğlu has been sentenced to a total of 9 years 8 months 20 days in prison for “propagating terrorism”, “insult to President Erdoğan”, “insult to Republic of Turkey”. As Kaftancıoğlu did not show any remourse, sentences have not been suspended. No arrest warrant has been issued for CHP Istanbul chair, while the decision will be sent to appeals court. CHP Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu said “this sentence given to Kaftancıoğlu is a punishment for Istanbul’s voters.”
“PALACE DECIDES ON THE VERDICT”
CHP Istanbul chair Kaftancıoğlu commented on the prison sentence, “verdicts are not decided in court rooms but in Palace halls. Our struggle against those who attempt to manipulate politics through mafia tactics is just beginning. We will not shut up until we end the Palace’s oversight” CHP Istanbul chair Kaftancıoğlu evaluated the verdict, “we never give up on liberty. I openly declare here, it is a whole new season that we are living in” as her speech was interrupted by crowd chanting “rights, law, justice”. Kaftancıoğlu continued, “the poem I recited was considered as a booster for increasing the prison sentence I have been given. Poetry is nice, it liberates people.”
AKP politician & Presidential High Advisory Council member Bülent Arınç, “you might not like Kaftancıoğlu, she won the elections and became a hero. I do not agree with her tweets but free expression must be respected and we must tolerate all.”
THE JUDGE WHO IMPRISONED HDP POLITICIANS
The same court president Akın Gürlek who sentenced CHP Istanbul chair Kaftancıoğlu, had also sentenced HDP’s former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and former HDP deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder. Moreover, the same judge is also assigned to court cases of Academics for Peace, Contemporary Lawyers’ Association and Sözcü Daily Newspaper’s court cases as well.
CHP MAYORS’ REACTION
Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Imamoğlu, “Kaftancıoğlu is the chairperson of Turkey’s founding party’s Istanbul branch, the greatest city in Turkey. I believe this injustice is going to be corrected in upper courts.” CHP Izmir Metropolitan Mayor Tunç Soyer also commented on the sentence given to Canan Kaftancıoğlu, “we will continue standing with her and contribute in any way we can. I do believe Turkey has judges and prosecutors that will annul the sentence adn revert this decision and call for acquittal.”
OPPOSITION’S CRITICISM OF THE SENTENCE
IYI Party Istanbul chair Buğra Kavuncu commented on the prison sentence given for CHP Istanbul chair Kaftancıoğlu, “while we cannot agree regarding the content of the subject of trial, the fact that this is brought up after winning in Istanbul shows that it is not a legal but political trial.” Saadet Party chair Karamollaoğlu criticized the prison sentence given to Kaftancıoğlu as well, “freedom of expression exists when one criticizes the government for doing wrong, not for suppressing the opposition. Otherwise it does not exist at all.”