Turkish court rules convicted gangster’s pre-election call to arms was not a crime

A Turkish court on Thursday dismissed legal proceedings against crime boss Sedat Peker, who had been accused of inciting hatred and abetting a criminal act, left-leaning Turkish daily Birgün reported on Thursday.

Peker, a hard-line Turkish nationalist convicted of crimes including establishing a criminal organisation, has become an outspoken supporter of  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since his release from prison in 2014.

He was under investigation for a speech a month before the March 31 local elections in which he called on his supporters to acquire weapons and prepare themselves to use them in the event of unrest after the elections.

"They are already saying that they will not recognise the Supreme Electoral Council, and they are going to have their party members and people take the streets depending on the election results," Peker said on Feb. 4, referring to the opposition. "As such, those who have the means should acquire licensed guns, shotguns, they should definitely be ready.’’

The Istanbul chief public prosecutor's office ruled that a call to acquire licensed guns does not constitute a crime, Birgün said.

The crime boss earlier called for the violent death of academics, known as Academics for Peace, who had signed a petition in January 2016 calling on Turkey to de-escalate conflict with Kurdish armed groups in the country’s southeast.