Charges filed against 37 over irregularities in March 31 elections

Published 26.09.2019 00:10

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office filed lawsuits against 37 people who were investigated over irregularities in the March 31 local elections. The suspects were charged for suspected links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Seven different indictments accused three suspects of being members of FETÖ and 34 suspects of supporting FETÖ without being a member.

FETÖ, which posed as a charity group with religious undertones, launched two coup attempts in 2013. Its July 15, 2016 coup attempt killed 251 people and injured 2,200 others.

It is behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the Turkish government through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, judiciary and academia. Millions of Turkish voters went to the polls on March 31 to choose mayors, city council members, mukhtars (neighborhood officials) and members of elder councils for five years. In Istanbul, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu received 48.8% of the vote, whereas the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Binali Yıldırım got 48.55%, according to official figures from the Supreme Election Council (YSK).

The results in March were canceled after the AK Party appealed to the YSK, citing irregularities and contradictions with legal measures, leading to the annulment of İmamoğlu's mayoral certificate, awarded by the provincial election board on April 17. Some 30,281 votes in 108 ballot boxes were declared invalid due to vote-counting sheets being unsigned or absent altogether, the YSK said in its detailed ruling. Also, balloting committee chairmen who were not civil servants as prescribed by law served in 754 polling centers in the March 31 mayoral elections in Istanbul.

The YSK said this practice was unprecedented and influenced the difference between İmamoğlu and Yıldırım, a slim margin of 13,729 votes that fell from the original 29,000 after appeals and recounts, thus raising questions on the validity of results.

However, it ruled in favor of a rerun, with seven votes in favor and four against.

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