Turkish opposition’s İmamoğlu to give statement on insult charges

Ekrem İmamoğlu, the secular main opposition candidate in the Istanbul mayoral election rerun, is to give a statement to prosecutors in response to a complaint by a provincial governor who said the man vying to run Turkey’s biggest city had insulted him and called him a dog, news site Diken reported on Tuesday.

Electoral authorities first declared İmamoğlu had won the March 31 vote to elect a new mayor of the city of some 16 million, but after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Islamist party alleged ballot irregularities, ordered the polls be held again on June 23. Losing control of the municipality would be a major blow to Erdogan’s prestige.

The governor of Ordu province, Seddar Yavuz, filed a criminal complaint against İmamoğlu and the deputy head of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Seyit Torun, alleging they had insulted him and called him a dog. An argument broke out when the politicians were prevented from using a VIP lounge at the local airport last week, pro-government Demirören News Agency said.

Pro-government media shared video footage of the incident, which the CHP said was doctored.

Prosecutors in Ordu will decide whether to bring charges after taking statements from those involved and examining the evidence.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has formed a team of 15 people to look for possible evidence of fraud during the five years that İmamoğlu was mayor of Istanbul's western district of Beylikdüzü, between 2014 and 2019, the opposition daily Sözcü said on Tuesday.