Turkish PM’s adviser goes on sick leave for injury to leg used to kick Soma protester

Turkish PM’s adviser goes on sick leave for injury to leg used to kick Soma protester

İsmail Saymaz ISTANBUL / Radikal
Turkish PM’s adviser goes on sick leave for injury to leg used to kick Soma protester

Photos taken on May 14 showed Yusuf Yerkel kicking a protester who was held down by security force members, during Erdoğan's controversial visit to the grieving mining town. AFP Photo

Prime ministerial adviser Yusuf Yerkel obtained a medical report allowing him to miss work, due to injuries sustained to the leg that he used to kick a mourner in Soma after last week’s mine disaster, according to medical officials.

Yerkel sparked outrage after being photographed kicking a mourner while accompanying Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his visit to the disaster-struck town of Soma on May 14. He went on seven days of sick leave after the incident.

According to the medical report, Yerkel went to the Ankara Atatürk Training and Research Hospital at around 8 p.m. on the same day with a complaint about pain in his right knee and was examined by Dr. Servan Gökhan. In the medical examination, Yerkel reportedly said the pain in his knee emerged because he fell.

He has been diagnosed with soft tissue trauma and given medical leave.

“There are 10x10 cm oedema, bruises and soft tissue panicula on the right knee, and bruises and soft tissue swelling on the left shoulder and front of the chest. The patient has been diagnosed with soft tissue trauma as there is sensitivity with leg and arm movements and difficulty with walking,” the report said.

Yerkel denounced “provocations and insults” and refused to apologize to his victim, in his first remarks after the photograph went viral on social media and was then widely covered by the foreign press.

“I have been deeply saddened by the incident that occurred in Soma on May 14. I am sorry for being unable to keep calm despite all of the provocations, insults and attacks I faced on that day,” said Yerkel, according to Anadolu Agency.

Meanwhile, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Hüseyin Çelik said that it was not possible to establish the truth from just a photograph.

“Yusuf Yerkel said the person who he was kicking on the floor had attacked him, injured him, and that he has taken medical leave for seven days [following the events],” Çelik said at a press conference in Ankara on May 16.

According to witness accounts, the special forces were interrogating the protester after he kicked an official car belonging to the convoy of the prime minister. Yerkel, who saw the scene as he was preparing to take a seat in the car assigned to him, reportedly ran at the protester and kicked him three or four times.