According to a survey conducted by MetroPOLL Research in November, 44.8 percent of İstanbul residents believe the trial of İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu was not a defamation case as claimed by the government but was instead politically motivated.
A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced İmamoğlu to two years, seven months in prison in a politically charged trial for insulting members of the Supreme Election Board (YSK) and imposed a political ban on him.
Prosecutors sought a sentence for İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), of between 15 months and four years in prison for a remark he made after defeating President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ally in a controversial 2019 mayoral election.
MetroPOLL announced the results of the survey on Wednesday, for which a total of 2,122 people were polled between November 15 and 20, on whether the trial of İmamoğlu was for defamation, as was claimed, or a politically motivated proceeding.
A total of 44.8 percent of respondents said the case was “political” and 30.9 percent said they knew nothing about it, while 17.6 percent accepted the government’s claim that it was a “defamation case.”
The case against İmamoğlu is really a libel case, or a political case? pic.twitter.com/XzhQ1DPpzt
— MetroPOLL Araştırma (@metropoll) December 14, 2022
İmamoğlu stood trial due to remarks he made at a news conference in November 2019 regarding the cancellation of the municipal election held in İstanbul on March 31, 2019 in which he won against the mayoral candidate of Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). İmamoğlu also won a repeat election held two months later.
At the news conference İmamoğlu criticized the YSK, which decided to cancel the İstanbul election, citing irregularities. He said at the time that the people who cancelled the March 31 election in İstanbul were “fools” because they had tarnished Turkey’s international image.
The İstanbul mayor was indicted in May 2021 due to his statements about YSK officials on accusations that his remarks were an insult to their honor, dignity and prestige.
The indictment, drafted by the Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, accused İmamoğlu of insulting 10 YSK officials including then-YSK chairman Sadi Güven.
However, İmamoğlu said at the first hearing in January that his remarks, which were in response to a question from a reporter, were not aimed at the YSK officials but at Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who in an earlier statement used the same word against him.