Sect leader Adnan Oktar – 1,000 years for sex crimes
Muslim televangelist Oktar preached creationism and conservative values while scantily clad women – his "kittens" – many of whom appeared to have had plastic surgery, danced around him to upbeat music in the TV studio.
The bearded 64-year-old was detained in Turkey in 2018 along with more than 200 other suspects as part of a crackdown on his group by the financial crimes unit of the Istanbul police.
Oktar and 13 other high-ranking members of his group were in total sentenced to 9,803 years and six months in jail, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
Oktar himself was sentenced to a total 1,075 years and three months in prison on 10 counts, including sexual assault, sexual abuse of minors, fraud and attempted political and military espionage. The sentences will run consecutively.
Two executives in Oktar's organisation, Tarkan Yavas and Oktar Babuna, were also sentenced to 211 and 186 years, respectively.
Harrowing details revealed in court
The official Anadolu news agency reported that Oktar was additionally found guilty of aiding a group led by U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen that Turkey blames for staging a failed coup attempt in 2016. He has denied links to Gulen and has called suggestions that he led a sex cult an "urban myth".
Some 236 defendants faced charges, 78 of whom were held in custody pending trial, Anadolu reported. Most of the suspects have maintained their innocence since the first court hearing in September 2019.
During the trial, which was followed closely by Turkish media for months, the court heard lurid and harrowing details of sex crimes. Oktar told the presiding judge in December that he had close to 1,000 girlfriends.
"There is an overflowing of love in my heart for women. Love is a human quality. It is a quality of a Muslim," he said in another hearing in October.
He added on separate occasion: "I am extraordinarily potent."
Oktar first came to public attention in the 1990s when he was the leader of a sect that was caught up in multiple sex scandals. His online A9 television channel began broadcasting in 2011, drawing denunciations from Turkey's religious leaders. The channel, which was often fined by Turkey's media watchdog RTUK, was seized by the state and shut down in the wake of the police crackdown on Oktar's group.
One of the women at his trial, identified only as CC, told the court that Oktar had repeatedly sexually abused her and other women. Some of the women he had raped were forced to take contraceptive pills, CC told the court, adding that she herself had joined when she was 17 years old.
Asked about 69,000 contraception pills found in his home by the police, Oktar said they were used to treat skin disorders and menstrual irregularities. Turkish authorities demolished Oktar's villa on the Asian side of Istanbul – which he also used for his TV studio – and confiscated all his property in 2018.
According to his website, Oktar has written more than 300 books, translated into 73 languages, including a 770-page volume called "The Atlas of Creation" under his pen-name Harun Yahya in which he argues that Darwin's theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism. (AFP/Reuters)