Turkish main opposition party’s Istanbul chair faces 8 years in prison

The chief public prosecutor of Turkey’s Court of Cassation has petitioned judges to finalise four out of five prison sentences issued against the head of the Istanbul office of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP), Sözcü newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Lower courts have found chairwoman Canan Kaftancıoğlu guilty of charges of insulting the republic, public officials and the president, as well as inciting hatred and terrorist propaganda. The verdicts foresaw jail sentences totalling nine years and eight months, Sözcü said.

Kaftancıoğlu should serve a reduced sentence of eight years and two months, the prosecutor said, asking that the top court overturn the charges of terrorist propaganda and lower a sentence for insulting the president. She would be obliged to serve at least part of the sentence in jail, according to Turkish law.

The Istanbul provincial head became a rising star among the opposition in Turkey after the CHP won the mayoral seat for Istanbul in local elections in 2019, defeating the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP). Islamist parties had governed the city for 27 years.

Kaftancıoğlu’s sentencing by the courts was “revenge” for the AKP’s losses in Istanbul and other major cities and provinces in the country, including the capital Ankara, at the elections, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said after she was first sentenced by a lower court in 2019, news website Duvar reported.

The charges against Kaftancıoğlu were based on tweets dating back eight years, according to state-run Anadolu Agency, and were originally issued just weeks after the CHP’s election victory.