Ex-minister receives jail sentence for insulting Erdoğan, Bahçeli

A court in Izmir sentenced Rıfat Serdaroğlu, former Turkish health minister who recently established his Right Party (DP), to 23 months and 10 days in prison over an article he wrote in 2018, Diken news website reported on Tuesday.

Serdaroğlu’s article titled Father, Son and the Holy Groom included insults against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his far-right coalition partner Devlet Bahçeli, the court ruled.

“Another court, another conviction! Twenty three months and 10 days more! I swear that I will not go to prison before I take down the empire of thieves and jail them!” the former minister said in a tweet posted from his party’s official account.

Serdaroğlu will appeal the ruling, his lawyers said.

Lawsuits over the crime of insulting the president have increased by 9,000 percent since 2010, according to a 2021 report based on Justice Ministry data. Four people had faced charges in 2010 over insulting the president, while 2019 saw the number soar to 36,066.

The crime in question carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.