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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Turkish rapper Ezhel acquitted on first day of drugs trial

Ezhel, 28, whose real name is Omer Sercan Ipekcioglu, was accused of inciting drug use through social-media postings as well as song lyrics

Ulya, mother of 28-year-old Turkish rapper Ezhel, whose real name is Omer Sercan Ipekcioglu, waves after he was released on June 19 in front of the Anadolu courthouse in Istanbul. AFP 
Ulya, mother of 28-year-old Turkish rapper Ezhel, whose real name is Omer Sercan Ipekcioglu, waves after he was released on June 19 in front of the Anadolu courthouse in Istanbul. AFP 

An Istanbul court on Tuesday acquitted a popular Turkish rapper who faced up to 10 years in jail on charges of encouraging drug use, activists and lawyers said, on the first day of a trial that had sparked widespread alarm.

Ezhel, 28, whose real name is Omer Sercan Ipekcioglu, was accused of inciting drug use through social-media postings as well as song lyrics.

He was arrested late last month in Istanbul by anti-narcotics police and his case was seen by rights groups as an example of declining freedom of expression under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The judge ruled that Ezhel had not committed any crime intentionally and ordered him to be acquitted and released immediately. He was due to walk free from the prison, where he has been held the last three weeks, in the next few hours.

"We got an acquittal. We can say that justice has been done," the Media and Law Studies Association freedom of speech group, which has followed the case, quoted his lawyer Fuat Ekin as saying.

Reports said that he was acquitted within just nine minutes of the trial opening.

The Ankara-born songwriter caught public attention with the release of his debut album Muptezhel last year. His music carries the influence of stars such as Eminem and 50 Cent.

His songs have been viewed millions of times online.

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