Turkish TV preacher jailed for 1,000 years for sex crimes

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Istanbul (AFP)

A Turkish Muslim televangelist who surrounded himself with scantily clad women on television was jailed for more than 1,000 years on Monday for sex crimes, local media reported.

Adnan Oktar preached conservative views as women he called his “kittens” – many of whom appeared to have had plastic surgery – danced around him in the television studio.

The 64-year-old was arrested in June 2018 in a crackdown on his group by the Istanbul Police Financial Crimes Unit.

He was sentenced to 1,075 years for crimes such as sexual assault, child sexual abuse, fraud and attempted political and military espionage, private television station NTV reported.

Some 236 suspects have been tried in the case, of which 78 are under arrest, according to the official Anadolu news agency.

The hearings presented grim details and heartbreaking sex crime allegations.

Oktar told the presiding judge in December that he has nearly 1,000 girlfriends.

“There is an overflow of love in my heart for women. Love is a human quality. It’s a quality of a Muslim, ”he said at another hearing in October.

He added on another occasion: “I am extraordinarily powerful”.

Oktar first gained public attention in the 1990s, when he was the leader of a cult that was grappling with multiple sex scandals.

Its online TV channel A9 began broadcasting in 2011, prompting denunciations from Turkish religious leaders.

One of the women at her trial, identified only as CC, told the court that Oktar repeatedly sexually assaulted her and other women.

Some of the women he raped were forced to take birth control pills, CC told court.

When asked about 69,000 birth control pills found at his home by police, Oktar said they were used to treat skin disorders and menstrual irregularities.

He also rejected any connection to a group led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish authorities accuse of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016.

Oktar is a creationist who rejects the Darwinian theory of evolution and has written a 770 page book titled “The Atlas of Creation” under the pen name, Harun Yahya.

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