Istanbul: Former Turkey football star Hakan Sukur went on trial yesterday at an Istanbul court in absentia on charges of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on social media.
Sukur is one of several thousand people including journalists, politicians and the occasional celebrity, to face legal proceedings on hugely controversial accusations of insulting the Turkish leader.
The lawyer of Sukur, one of the stars of Turkey's third place performance in the 2002 World Cup, told the court 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, Sukur had accused Erdogan of theft in a tweet in February 2015, without naming him directly. Prosecutors have asked in the indictment for Sukur to serve up to four years in jail.
Sukur, 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.