An Istanbul court has sentenced a televangelist who surrounded himself with scantily clad women he called “kittens” to 8,658 years in prison in a retrial, Turkish local media reported.
Adnan Oktar was charged with leading a criminal gang, engaging in political and military espionage, and sexual abuse of minors, among others.Adnan Oktar, who has been described as a “cult leader”, led television programmes surrounded by women as he preached creationism and conservative values.
He also published books in multiple languages around the world, under the pen name Harun Yahya.
The 66-year-old and hundreds of his followers were arrested in 2018 after a police raid on his villa revealed he ran a criminal ring under the disguise of a heterodox Islamic cult which carried out international antievolution campaigns through various publishing houses and media outlets.
His online A9 TV channel was also shut down.
In January 2021, Oktar was convicted of 10 separate charges, including leading a criminal gang, engaging in political and military espionage, sexual abuse of minors, rape, blackmail and causing torment.
The charges also included aiding the network led by US-based Muslim scholar Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in 2016.
Oktar was sentenced at the time to 1,075 years, but an upper court overturned that ruling.
During the retrial, Istanbul’s High Criminal Court on Wednesday sentenced Oktar to 8,658 years in prison on several charges, including sexual abuse and depriving someone of their liberty, the Anadolu news agency reported.
The court also sentenced 10 other suspects to 8,658 years in prison each, the agency said.
According to the Turkish Daily Sabah, the sentences did not exceed a previous record sentence issued by the court – which was 9,803 years and six months – but are still one of the longest in the country and in the world.