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Opposition’s Istanbul leader sentenced to 9 years 8 months in prison

An Istanbul court on Friday sentenced Canan Kaftancioglu, the Istanbul provincial head of the secular main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to nine years in prison for several charges that include insulting the President, Gercek Gundem news portal reported.

The court reportedly has not suspended the sentence due to a poem Kaftancioglu shared on Twitter and read in front of the courthouse prior to the hearing that showed she was not remorseful.

CHP’s Istanbul chairperson would not immediately go to prison pending the appeals process.

Kaftancioglu appeared in an Istanbul court on Friday for the third hearing of an ongoing case against her over her Twitter posts shared between 2012 and 2017.

The indictment against her included charges of insulting the state, the president and public servants, inciting hatred and enmity, and spreading terrorist propaganda.

She could have received a sentence of 17 years in prison if she had been convicted of all the charges against her.

Before the hearing, 80 provincial heads of the secular CHP released a press statement holding forth that the case against Kaftancioglu is politically-motivated from the beginning to the end.

“This case, which is launched in order to threaten public opposition through CHP, is a [state-led] coup against [Turkey’s] democracy and the freedom of expression,” the CHP  outlined.

Kaftancioglu made her latest defense on Friday and emphasized that she would continue telling the truth even if she is sentenced to 27 years instead of 17.

“I’m going to tell you about the facts today. I did not insult the president and I won’t ever do that. … I criticized the politician who is the leader of the AKP [AK Party] using satire. And I would never insult public servants or the state,” the CHP’s Istanbul chair explained.

In reference to the charges that she made propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), she defended herself by underlining that she did not do it.

“May God damn those who make propaganda for a terrorist organization,” she added.

Designated as a terrorist organization by the Turkish state, the PKK is an armed rebellious group that has waged an insurgency in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey for more than three decades.

Among those who followed Friday’s hearing were Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, consuls representing several different countries and a number of lawmakers.

In Turkey, insulting the president is a crime according to Article 299 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and it could result in a four-year sentence in prison. The sentence can be even longer if the crime is committed through mass media.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of people who have been prosecuted and convicted under Article 299 since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took office in 2014.

Trial of Istanbul’s CHP chairperson politically-motivated, say opposition MPs

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