Erdogan holds “secret” meeting the night before Imamoglu’s conviction – columnist
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan allegedly hold a secret meeting with his close working team the night before Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu’s trial to examine the possible effects of a conviction on his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), ahead of next year’s elections.
“As he ‘felt in advance’ that the judge was going to announce his decision in the case the next day, Erdogan has laid the issue on the table in Ankara on the night of Dec.12,” Halk TV columnist Ismail Saymaz said on Friday.
Asking why Erdogan is so interested in Imamoglu case, Saymaz said the meeting that he confirmed with two different sources “proves that the court’s verdict was not given on behalf of the Turkish Nation, but on behalf of Bestepe [the Presidential Palace]”.
A Turkish court on Dec.13, has sentenced Imamoglu to 2 years, 7 months and 15 days in prison on charges of insulting the members of a top election board. The court also banned him from politics, a decision which needs to be finalized by the supreme court in order to be implemented.
Turkey’s popular opposition mayor’s name is among the strongest possible presidency candidates to run against Erdogan in next year’s presidential elections, according to leading polls.
Erdogan’s top aide Ibrahim Kalin, AKP’s spokesperson Omer Celik, AKP Deputy Chairman Numan Kurtulmus, AKP’s vice presidents Hamza Dag and Mustafa Sen and Erdogan’s election campaign manager Ertan Aydin were present in the meeting, Saymaz said.
On the “secret” meeting’s agenda, there was just one item, according to Saymaz.
“Erdogan asked how a possible conviction would effect them,” he said.
Reacting those responses that it would have a negative effect on AKP’s electoral campaign, Erdogan has ended thee meeting by advising his team “to have faith in judicial independence,” Saymaz said.
Saymaz said a source from Erdogan’s AKP told him that Erdogan sees Imamoglu as a “threat”.