Turkey: Opposition Party Branch Leader Sentenced to Nearly 10 Years in Jail
A prominent Turkish opposition official was sentenced by a court on Friday to nine years and eight months in prison for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and engaging in terrorist propaganda.
The Republican People's Party (CHP) said Canan Kaftancioglu, head of its Istanbul branch and one of the strongest opposition voices within the party, will not immediately go to jail pending appeals.
The indictment also accused Kaftancioglu of insulting the government and public servants, inciting hatred and enmity, mostly on the basis of tweets posted between 2012 and 2017.
Prosecutors sought up to 17 years in prison for her social media posts.
Kaftancioglu played a significant role in municipal elections in Istanbul that saw the CHP take over the mayoralty, which had been held by Erdogan's AK Party and its predecessors for the last 25 years.
Speaking outside Istanbul's main courthouse following the verdict, Kaftancioglu said it would not silence her.
"Neither you all, nor I deserved this. If the court ruling is not in line with the law and is shaped by the wishes of the political power, it means there is no law in this country," she told reporters.
"The cases opened are concluded not in the courtrooms but in the rooms of the (presidential) palace," she added. A crowd of supporters chanted: "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism."
The first session of Kaftancioglu's trial took place five days after the CHP's Ekrem Imamoglu won a re-run election for mayor of Istanbul in June.
Imamoglu said he was saddened by the verdict but believed it would be overturned by the appeals court.
Kati Piri, the European Parliament's Turkey rapporteur, tweeted that the verdict was "surreal and outrageous", adding, "Erdogan takes revenge for opposition's election victory. Unacceptable!"
Opposition broadcaster Halk TV said the court refused to suspend the sentence on the grounds that she had not shown any remorse during the course of the trial.
Large crowds gathered outside the courthouse in Istanbul and protested the verdict, shouting demands for "rights, laws, justice."