Popular Turkish rapper Ezhel faces trial again for ‘encouraging drug use’
The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Office’s indictment accusing Ömer Sercan İpekçioğlu of “encouraging drug use” and seeking up to 10 years jail time was accepted by a court, Demirören News Agency reported on July 11.
İpekçioğlu, better known by his stage name Ezhel, was arrested on May 24 by anti-narcotics police on the same charges.
The 44th Criminal Court of First Instance on June 19 issued its verdict in the first hearing and acquitted him.
The latest indictment claimed that the singer has promoted drug use in his songs which have been widely shared on social media.
According to the indictment, although “no element of a crime was found” in the domiciliary visit to his house, THC metabolite, which is the active substance of cannabis, was found in his blood sample.
The prosecutor’s office recalled that he had defended himself asserting that he wrote those lyrics just to create rhymes. He told the court he was not aware that he committed a crime with pictures and lyrics.
But “both lyrics and the narrative of the songs as a whole” have clearly promoted drug use, the indictment claimed.
His arrest had led to widespread outcry in Turkey, with many supporters making the hashtag “#FreeEzhel” a trending topic on Twitter and other Turkish musicians expressing support to him. Many have said Ezhel’s arrest was an attempt to censor his critical voice.
Born and raised in the Turkish capital Ankara, Ezhel made the ghettos of the city central features of his rap music. He defines his music style as “Anatolian Urban Core/Hip-Hop/Reggae-Dub/Trap.”
Ezhel released his debut album “Müptezhel” in 2017, reaching out to many across the country with his distinctive genre, which contains local tunes. The video for his song “Şehrimin Tadı” (Taste of my City) received 31 million views on YouTube.