Turkish court sentences opposition Istanbul chief 9 years and 8 months in prison
(Updated with details on Kaftancıoğlu's sentence in first through fifth paragraphs, with quotes in response to ruling in later sections)
A Turkish court on Friday sentenced Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the Istanbul provincial head of the secular main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), to nine years, eight months and 20 days in prison in a case against her for social media posts she made from six years ago.
Kaftancıoğlu was facing up to 17 years in prison on charges of insulting the Turkish president and the state, provoking public enmity and making terrorist propaganda.
She was handed a one-year and six-month prison sentence for making terrorist propaganda, one year, six months and 20 days for insulting public officials, two years and four months for insulting the Turkish president, one year and eight months for insulting the Turkish state and two years and eight months for provoking public enmity.
The sentence was influenced by the lack of remorse the politician showed, a judge said, referring to a poem by Turkish revolutionary poet Nazim Hikmet that Kaftancıoğlu read out during a previous hearing.
Kaftancıoğlu will appeal the decisions, and has not been arrested.
"If all court decisions are reached according to the political power's whims, then sadly all hearings in this country are no more than a formality," Kaftancıoğlu said.
The Istanbul provincial head became a rising star in the opposition after the March 31 local elections, and is credited as the person behind the CHP's victory in Istanbul, which had been controlled by Islamist parties since 1994.
The CHP's chairman, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, said Kaftancıoğlu had been sentenced as "revenge" for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s losses in Istanbul and other important cities on March 31, including the capital city of Ankara.
"There's no justice in this country. When the judge makes his decision, he looks not to his conscience but to the (president's) palace," Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Kaftancıoğlu hit back at the decision with similar criticism in a series of tweets on Friday afternoon, accusing the government of resorting to mafia tactics after losing at the ballot box.
Açılan davalarda kararlar, duruşma salonlarında değil saray odalarında alınıyor. Bu ülkede mahkeme kararları kanunlara göre düzenlenmiyor; kanunlar, verilmek istenen cezalara göre şekillendiriliyor.— Canan Kaftancıoğlu (@ccanannnnnn) September 6, 2019
"The verdicts in cases are not made in the court room but in the (president's) palace. In this country, court's decisions are not made according to the law; laws are shaped according to the sentence (the government) wants to give," she said.
The tweets that brought Kaftancıoğlu's to trial include one in which she acknowledged the massacres of Armenians in the late Ottoman period as genocide, and another in which she condemned the assassination of three Kurdish women, including a founding member of the outlawed militant group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), in Paris.
"This case, which was opened to intimidate public opposition through the Republican People's Party, is clearly a blow against democracy and freedom of expression," said a statement by CHP provincial heads.