Erdogan says courts will fix any mistakes after Istanbul mayor's sentencing

Ekrem Imamoglu's conviction has rallied the Opposition bloc around what it sees as a fight for democracy, the rule of law and justice

December 18, 2022 12:56 am | Updated 12:56 am IST - ISTANBUL

Demonstrators shout slogans and wave Turkish national flags during a rally to oppose the conviction and political ban of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a popular rival to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, in Istanbul, Turkey on December 15, 2022.

Demonstrators shout slogans and wave Turkish national flags during a rally to oppose the conviction and political ban of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a popular rival to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, in Istanbul, Turkey on December 15, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that the courts would correct any mistakes in an appeal process after the jailing of Istanbul's Opposition mayor, and in the meantime Turks had no right to ignore legal rulings.

In his first direct comments on Wednesday's conviction of Ekrem Imamoglu — a potential challenger to Mr. Erdogan who was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison and handed a political ban — Mr. Erdogan said he did not care who is the Opposition candidate in next year's elections.

Mr. Imamoglu was prosecuted for insulting public officials in 2019, when he criticised a decision to cancel the first round of municipal elections that he won against the 25-year incumbent government of Mr. Erdogan's AK Party.

Also Read | Istanbul mayor’s ‘insult’ trial resumes ahead of elections

"There's still no final court decision yet. The case will go to the Court of Appeals and the Court of Cassation," Mr. Erdogan said. "If the courts have made a mistake, it will be corrected. They're trying to pull us into this game."

Mr. Imamoglu's conviction has rallied the Opposition bloc around what it sees as a fight for democracy, the rule of law and justice. Thousands have gathered at rallies led by Imamoglu, who has said he plans to appeal his conviction.

"There have been many court rulings that we have harshly criticised ourselves, but that doesn't give anyone the right to insult judges or to ignore court rulings," Mr. Erdogan told a rally at Mardin in Turkey's southeast.

Critics say Turkey's judiciary has been bent to Mr. Erdogan's will to punish his critics. The government says they are independent.

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