Prosecutors are asking for up to 12 years in prison for Battal İlgezdi, a mayor from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) in Istanbul's Ataşehir district. İlgezdi, suspended from office on Dec.8 by the Interior Ministry, skipped the trial's first hearing in Istanbul on Friday as he is currently not in custody.
He is accused of corruption related to public contracts and unjust enrichment. In Friday's hearing, the court approved his lawyer's request for a press ban on court proceedings and adjourned the trial until March.
The ownership of 15 luxury apartments in two skyscrapers by the mayor and his wife Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi, a lawmaker from the CHP, in the posh Buz Residence building stirred controversy and raised questions about how they accumulated their wealth.
The mayor denied the allegations when they first surfaced in 2015, and asked the prosecutor's office to investigate the claims against him. The İlgezdis were also accused of amassing a fortune through corruption and covering up their wrongdoings through threats.
The CHP promotes itself as a staunch opponent of corruption. Zeynep Kılıçdaroğlu, the daughter of the party's chairman, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, also owns an apartment in one of the skyscrapers where the İlgezdis own property. She defended the purchase by saying she had the financial means for such an acquisition.
The indictment against İlgezdi claims more than TL 2.5 million ($655,000) in the mayor's accounts were not disclosed to authorities in compliance with laws on the declaration of elected officials' assets. The indictment added that the mayor had no explanation for how he acquired the two properties owned by his daughter.
The prosecutors also accuse İlgezdi and other municipality officials of fraud related to a public contract for the construction of a park.