Turkey Ex-football Star On Trial for Insulting Turkey’s President Erdoğan

hhhFormer Turkey football star Hakan Şükür went on trial in his absence Thursday on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on social media.

 

The lawyer of Şükür, one of the stars of Turkey’s third place performance in the 2002 World Cup, told the court in Istanbul that his client had moved to the United States.

Ali Onur Guncel said his client could give testimony from the United States if evidence provided by the defence was found to be insufficient.

According to Turkish media, Şükür had accused Erdogan of theft in a tweet in February 2015, without naming him directly.

Prosecutors have asked in the indictment for Şükür to serve up to four years in jail.

Şükür, a striker whose football career stretched from 1987-2007, was by far the most prolific goalscorer in the history of the Turkish national side, finding the net 51 times in 112 appearances.

His goal after just 11 seconds of play against South Korea in 2002 remains the fastest goal in World Cup history.

After football, Sukur went into politics and was in 2011 elected an MP with Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

But he resigned in 2013 after a vast corruption probe that targeted Erdoğan and his inner circle, siding with the movement of his arch-foe, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gülen.

Şükür had voiced objections to the government move to shut down schools run by Gülen’s movement Hizmet.

His lawyer’s comments confirm that Şükür has left his home country for the United States have ended uncertainty over his whereabouts.

Şükür had previously insisted his presence there was merely temporary to learn English and open a football academy.

 

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