Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu over his “disrespectful” behavior during a visit to a shrine, officials said on Tuesday.
Imamoglu, who is a potential election challenger to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the main opposition CHP party, was pictured with his hands folded behind his back during a visit to a tomb of an Ottoman sultan last year.
He was attending a ceremony marking the anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest from the Byzantine Empire in 1453.
Interior ministry spokesman Ismail Catakli said the probe was opened by city prosecutors over allegations that the mayor was “disrespectful to the tomb of Fatih the Conqueror”.
He did not explain how Imamoglu may have disrespected the shrine.
Prosecutors were also investigating separate claims that Imamoglu had visited the co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Catakli said.
Prosecutors are now trying to dissolve the party -- the third-largest in parliament -- over its alleged ties to the outlawed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Imamoglu’s spokesman Murat Ongun tweeted that the mayor has been asked to give a statement for an investigation “which lacks any explanation”.
Imamoglu, who embarrassed Erdogan’s ruling AKP party by winning a controversy-filled Istanbul election in 2019 that had to be re-run because of allegations of fraud, is no stranger to government probes.
He is also being investigated for his opposition to Erdogan’s flagship project creating an alternative to the Bosphorus strait, a major world shipping lane, which is expected to break ground in June.
Imamoglu is one of several potential candidates from the main opposition party in a presidential election slated for 2023.
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