Court accepts Turkish prosecutors' Gezi indictment

Court accepts Turkish prosecutors' Gezi indictment

Court accepts Turkish prosecutors Gezi indictment

The protests began at the end of May against a government redevelopment plan of Istanbul's Gezi Park. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

An Istanbul court yesterday accepted the Public Prosecutor’s Office indictment over the mass demonstrations that swept the country between May and July.

The indictment charged 255 protesters, including seven foreigners, with a range of offenses including violating laws on demonstrations, “damaging public property,” “taking part in illegal demonstrations,” “causing interruptions in public services,” “damaging a place of worship,” and “protecting criminals.”

The majority of those indicted, who face one or several of those accusations, will be tried by the 55th Criminal Court of First Instance. The first hearing of the trial is expected to be held in the first week of May. 

A widely circulated claim, however, was rejected in the indictment in which the court ruled there were no beer cans detected at the Dolmabahçe Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan Mosque in Beşiktaş, where injured protesters were being treated. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeatedly claimed the protesters drank beer in the mosque, and pro-government newspapers claimed there were beer cans found in the mosque. The mosque’s imam, however, said he did not see such an incident. 

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Umut Oran asked from where the prime minister received information that protesters drank beer in the mosque. 

“Did you claim people drank beer in the mosque without having any evidence?” Oran asked in a statement. “If so, isn’t it a case of slander charges, according to the Turkish Penal Code Article 267?” 

The protests began at the end of May against a government redevelopment plan for Istanbul’s Gezi Park. The attempt to save the last green area in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square evolved into the country’s largest turmoil in recent history, with prolonged protests across the country, resulting in the deaths of five protesters and one police officer, and thousands of injured.