Erkan Karaarslan, a political consultant currently standing trial in Turkey, has claimed that individuals who visited him in prison promised his release on condition that he testify against Ekrem İmamoğlu and Özlem Çerçioğlu from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Tuesday.
Karaarslan, who in the past provided consulting services to several opposition-governed municipalities, made the revelation during a hearing at a high criminal court in Aydın where he is standing trial on charges of forgery, misconduct and bid rigging.
In his statement he said he was brought to a meeting in prison under the guise of a lawyer consultation.
“Instead, I met with local journalist Serhan Seyhan. He isn’t a lawyer and so he isn’t supposed to be allowed into the prison,” he said.
“He promised that I would be released that very day if I testified against the CHP’s İmamoğlu and Çerçioğlu. Otherwise I would receive a prison sentence.”
“He said my trial had nothing to do with mayors,” he added.
Karaarslan also claimed that several Cabinet members got in touch with him and his family with the same demands, although he refrained from specifying any names.
“I don’t want to go into any details,” he said. “I am still in prison because I kept telling the truth and resisted all this pressure.”
Ali Aktaş, a lawyer from the opposition Felicity Party (SP), tweeted a picture from the record of Karaarslan’s statements.
During Turkey’s local elections on March 31, İmamoğlu was the CHP’s mayoral candidate for İstanbul. He defeated the ruling party nominee by a narrow margin and briefly became the new İstanbul mayor until the country’s election authority cancelled the results on the grounds of alleged irregularities and announced a new election on June 23.
Çerçioğlu was re-elected as mayor of the Aydın Municipality, for which Karaarslan used to work as a consultant until arrested over alleged ties to the Gülen movement.