Istanbul mayor İmamoğlu slams Gezi trial ahead of final hearing

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu on Monday announced his support for 16 defendants in the so-called Gezi trial, ahead of their expected final hearing on charges of attempting to violently overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The case against 16 civil society activists, journalists, lawyers and actors “looks like a legal proceeding, however, it is like an extrajudicial execution,” news website Diken quoted the opposition mayor as saying.

Tuesday’s proceedings are expected to be the final hearing in the trial, where the defendants face a total of 47,520 years in prison on charges of attempting to violently overthrow the government by organising the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

Philanthropist Osman Kavala, architect and activist Mücella Yapıcı and civil society activist Yiğit Aksakoğlu are facing life sentences without parole for their alleged involvement in the protests, which started as a small sit-in against the demolition of Gezi Park, but snowballed into large nationwide anti-government protests after police used batons and tear gas against demonstrators.

Another defendant in the case, chairman of the Istanbul Chamber of City Planners, Tayfun Kahraman, İmamoğlu said, is “a brother of mine who made compromises to peacefully resolve the (Gezi Park) process, working with the topmost people in the state … He is a friend of mine who sat down with the president and other ministers to resolve the process.”

Kahraman told a previous hearing, that he had attended two meetings with government officials in June 2013, as part of the Taksim Solidarity group which emerged during the protests as an intermediary with protesters.  

“The fact that the government recognised us as legitimate alone is proof that there was no attempt to overthrow the government,” Kahraman said.