Turkey’s interior minister says Koç group allocated private plane to İmamoğlu

Turkey’s Interior Minister said on Saturday that Koç Holding allocated a private plane to the opposition’s Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu, Duvar news site reported

Turkey’s biggest industrial group has been targeted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) since Gezi Park protests in Istanbul in 2013, the biggest demonstrations against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since he came to power in 2003.

Koç Holding owns the Divan Hotel next to Gezi Park, in which some protestors sought shelter from the police during the demonstrations. 

Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Saturday that the business group allocated a private plane for İmamoğlu to use during his election campaign for Istanbul rerun on June 23.  “The people who assigned their hotel in Taksim during the Gezi events assign their private jets today,” said Soylu, during a breakfast meeting with neighbourhood mukhtars in Istanbul’s working class district of Bağcılar.

İmamoğlu won the local polls on March 31 in Istanbul’s financial powerhouse, which has been ruled by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its predecessors for 25 years.

The politician is now running an election campaign for elections on June 23, after the country’s Supreme Election Council annulled the March vote in Istanbul, due to the AKP’s appeal which cited severe electoral irregularities. 

The Koç Group responded to Soylu’s accusation on Sunday in a written statement which said the company that actually had carried out the lease, Setair, was a commercial entity that had rented out services to various political figures in the past, including a helicopter for the ruling party’s mayoral candidate Binali Yıldırım on March 3. 

The group said Ekrem İmamoğlu had rented its planes twice, on Many 19 and last week, when he was visiting Black Sea coastal provinces, as a part of the company’s routine aviation services. 

Following Koç Holding’s statement, Soylu posted an allusive tweet that mentioned the business groups’s Twitter account with a photo of himself while getting a haircut. 

“I don’t get my hair cut in Greece. I get it cut at Mahmut Usta from Kahta, in Sultangazi in the Esentepe neighbourhood, in Turkey. We know your ‘unfortunates’ well. And you know that we know,” Soylu said.