Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

Turkey's Erdogan to sue opposition leader for 2m lira

Suit is largest damages claim brought by president and his family against Kemal Kilicdaroglu

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media in the village of Ayder, near the Black Sea city of Rize, Turkey. AP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media in the village of Ayder, near the Black Sea city of Rize, Turkey. AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is suing the head of the country’s main opposition party for two million Turkish lira (Dh996,213) over allegations he made in a newspaper interview about the leader's offshore wealth.

The suit is the latest but by far the largest damages claim brought by Mr Erdogan and his family against Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Mr Erdogan’s lawyer, Ahmet Ozel, said the case was being brought for “lies and slanderous insults” made by Mr Kilicdaroglu in an interview published on Monday in Cumhuriyet, a newspaper favouring the CHP.

“We are sure that, as he couldn’t before, again he will not be able to prove any of his unfounded claims,” Mr Ozel said.

“However, he will continue his tactic of mudslinging. In this context we have submitted the necessary criminal complaint applications to the relevant authorities.

“Once again, we stress that the President of the Republic of Turkey, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his family members do not have any money abroad.”

Mr Kilicdaroglu accused the Erdogan family of having “cheated Turkey” through not paying taxes.

“If the Erdogan family loves the country, let it bring its overseas fortune to Turkey. They have billions,” he said.

Mr Kilicdaroglu, who has led the CHP since 2010, also referred to allegations he first made three years ago that Mr Erdogan’s brother and son had been involved in sending millions of dollars to the Isle of Man, an offshore tax haven in the Irish Sea.

He said Mr Erdogan’s family transferred $15m to a company called Bellway Limited, producing bank documents that he claimed showed the payments.

Mr Erdogan denied the accusations, saying “not a single penny” had gone abroad.

In July this year, two court decisions ordered Mr Kilicdaroglu to pay 556,000 lira in damages relating to the allegations.

Some opposition MPs said proposals for legal reform introduced in June are aimed at covering up such cases by making them subject to confidentiality orders.

In recent years, Mr Erdogan has brought several cases against Mr Kilicdaroglu.

a report last year by the state-run Anadolu news agency said the CHP leader had paid out almost 1.5m lira in cases brought by Mr Erdogan and others in the past 10 years.

Last year, the CHP established a fund to pay compensation claims made against its members.

At about the same time, it was reported that Mr Kilicdaroglu had sold his summer house to cover the costs of cases brought against him.

Tens of thousands of people have been prosecuted for insulting the president, an offence that can carry a sentence of up to four years in jail.

Updated: August 20, 2020 05:36 AM

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