Arrest warrant reinstated for ‘man with machete’

Arrest warrant reinstated for ‘man with machete’

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet
Arrest warrant reinstated for ‘man with machete’

Sabri Çelebi was seen holding a machete in the footage. DHA Photo

An arrest warrant for a man who chased and kicked Gezi Park protesters in Istanbul last month, popularly known as “the man with the machete,” was reinstated Aug. 5, after news first broke that the warrant was lifted on the same day, daily Hürriyet revealed Aug. 15.

Istanbul’s 53rd Criminal Court of First Instance reinstated the arrest warrant against Sabri Çelebi, who was seen attacking Gezi Park protesters with a machete around Istanbul’s Taksim Square on July 6, at a pre-trial hearing on Aug. 5, where the parties were not present. The court had lifted the arrest warrant earlier the same day.

The court stated the reason for reinstating the warrant was that the suspect was abroad and had not yet made his statement.

Çelebi faces up to 27 years in prison for attacking protesters with the machete, according to the prosecutor’s indictment.

Turan Önder, Çelebi’s lawyer, said the court’s decision to first lift and then reinstate the arrest warrant was a normal procedure as the investigation had come to an end and the judicial process had started.
“The first stage, the investigation stage, has come to an end and the judicial [phase] has started. The court decided to lift the old warrant and then reinstate it, as the court had to make a new decision. There is such a legal obligation,” Önder said, adding that Istanbul’s 53rd Criminal Court of First Instance could have decided to proceed with Istanbul’s 1st High Criminal Court’s decision.

After footage of Çelebi chasing protesters with a machete appeared on the Internet, police detained him, but he was later released by a court, attracting vociferous public criticism, on the grounds that he was not a flight risk. Çelebi, however, boarded a flight for Morocco on July 10, after which a court issued an arrest warrant for him.

Çelebi, who had flown to Morocco with his family, has not yet returned to Turkey, having twice postponed his flight, though Çelebi’s wife and child flew back to the country on Aug. 13, Hürriyet reported.

Önder said Çelebi had told him that he would be come back in a month and that threats prevented him for returning at the moment.

“He wanted me to issue a complaint to the prosecutor’s office because of the threats he is receiving,” Önder said.