Istanbul mayor's conviction a "major setback for democracy in Turkey"
The Diplomatic Service of the European Union reacted on Thursday to a Turkish court's recent decision to convict Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu.
Imamoglu was sentenced to a prison term of two years seven months and 15 days on Wednesday for allegedly insulting members of Turkey's election board. If the decision is upheld by the appeals court, Imamoglu will also face a political ban.
The spokesperson of European Union External Actions said in a written statement:
"The decision of the first instance court sentencing İstanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu to 2 years, 7 months and 15 days in prison and banning him from political life for the crime of 'insulting public officials' constitutes a major setback for democracy in Turkey. This sentence is disproportionate and confirms the systemic lack of independence of the judiciary and the undue political pressure on judges and prosecutors in Turkey."
The statement continued:
"Ahead of Presidential and Parliamentary elections next year, this decision is particularly significant in the context of politicization of the country’s judiciary system, which undermines the freedom and fairness of the electoral context. Turkey needs to reverse the continuous backsliding on human rights and rule of law now."