religious sect of Adnan Oktar

Record of more than 8,000 years in prison for a sect leader in Turkey

Adnan Oktar, the leader of a religious sect accused of rape and abuse, has received one of the longest sentences in the world.

A court in Istanbul has imposed a record prison sentence of 8,658 years – one of the longest sentences in the world – against Adnan Oktar, the leader of a religious sect in Turkey, arrested in 2018 for a series of crimes against his followers – mainly women – including child abuse and rape.

During the final session held yesterday of the new trial against Oktar and 14 other defendants for their links to his religious movement, both Oktar himself and the rest of the defendants each received an unprecedented sentence of 8,658 years in prison. Even so, these sentences received on appeal are less than the 9,803 years and 6 months they had previously received.

The first verdict against Oktar and his acolytes was announced in January 2021, but an appeal court later found that there had been a series of legal flaws in the process, and ordered a new trial. This allowed a total of 68 defendants to go free as their time in pretrial detention had expired, but Oktar and his closest associates had to remain behind bars. Subsequently, and following an appeal by the prosecution, 50 of the 68 defendants who had been released returned to jail.

In the session held yesterday, the judges delivered their final verdict against a total of 215 defendants, 72 of them in pretrial detention, and Oktar and his closest adherents in his religious movement were sentenced. Oktar, nicknamed Harun Yahya by his followers, and who according to his statements believed he would be acquitted, was sentenced to 891 years – among other sentences – for charges such as leading a criminal organization, sexual abuse, denial of the right to education, torture, kidnapping, and for illegally storing private data of people, including well-known politicians and journalists.

In total, the court handed down a record sentence of 8,658 years in prison for the sect leader, considering the magistrates that, as leader of the movement, he should also be sentenced for the crimes committed by his disciples. Oktar, who preached a totally distorted version of Islam, especially surrounded himself with women whom he called his “kittens”, assuring that they were all in love with him: many have reported having witnessed sexual abuse and rape, including with minors.