Erdal Kocabıyık was attacked by top government aide Yusuf Yerkel (L) during PM Erdoğan’s eventful visit to Soma in the wake of the mining disaster that killed 301 mine workers. The incident was widely covered by foreign media.
The victim of an assault by a prime ministerial aide was raided, detained and interrogated after the incident last week, which sparked huge fury after photographs and footage circulated on the Internet last week, daily Cumhuriyet reported May 22.
Erdal Kocabıyık was eventually released by prosecutors, after insisting that he had been a miner in Soma for 10 years. Initial accounts from figures close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had claimed that he was a member of a leftist-nationalist anti-government group.
The kick took place during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s eventful visit to Soma in the wake of the mining disaster that killed 301 mine workers, and was widely covered by foreign media.
Following his detention, Kocabıyık obtained a medical report and filed a complaint against Erdoğan’s advisor, Yusuf Yerkel, who accused him of attacking first.
A Twitter account close to the AKP claimed after the incident that the person kicked by Yerkel was not from Soma but rather a member of the Turkish Youth Union (TGB).
New footage that surfaced this week showed Kocabıyık aiming a kick at a car escorting the prime minister’s convoy in Soma, before being held down by two members of the Special Forces. Yerkel, who saw this incident from a distance, is then seen rushing to Kocabıyık and kicking him repeatedly.
Kocabıyık told Cumhuriyet that he used to work at a local mine owned by the Uyar Mine Company, which was closed down after a fire broke out last year. “They didn’t give me two months of my earned wages. Furthermore, they didn’t pay my 1.5 years worth indemnity. This is why I was protesting,” Kocabıyık told Cumhuriyet.
One miner died and 27 other workers were injured in the fire at the Uyar mine on Oct. 20, 2013. One of Kocabıyık’s relatives said the family was reluctant to talk about the incident to the media, but was determined to continue with the judicial process.
Doctor who signed Yerkel’s medical leave speaks out
Despite the incident drawing huge public attention, Yerkel stirred more outrage after obtaining a medical report for injuries apparently sustained to the foot he used to kick Kocabıyık.
The doctor who signed Yerkel’s medical leave sent a message to the Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB), in which he explained the circumstances of the consultation.
“For the last three days, I am someone whose photograph has appeared on TV and [insulted] as a fraud, as someone who doesn’t deserve his degree. Even my six-year-old child asks me, ‘Daddy, are you a falsifier,’ doctor Şervan Gökhan wrote.
Despite his seven days of medical leave, Yerkel was photographed duly accompanying Erdoğan to Friday prayers in Ankara
on the day after the incident.