Middle East

Gezi Park protesters on mass trial in Turkey

More than 250 people, including seven foreigners, go on trial over anti-government protests that rocked Turkey in 2013.

Last updated: 06 May 2014 20:02
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At least eight people died in clashes between protesters and security officials last year [AFP]

More than 250 people have gone on trial in Turkey over anti-government protests that rocked the country last year.

The 255 suspects, including seven foreigners, are facing trial for last year's Gezi Park protests, that mushroomed from a demonstration over proposed redevelopment of an Istanbul park into massive protests against the rule of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The defendants are facing charges including violating laws on demonstrations, damaging a place of worship and injuring civil servants.

If convicted, some could face up to 12 years in prison.

However, one of the defence lawyers, Abdullah Onur Eyuboglu, told the AFP news agency it was unlikely any of them would be handed jail sentences.

He said the indictment was "deeply flawed, vague and one-size-fits-all", with all suspects facing the same charges even though the alleged offences took place on different days.

At least eight people died and 8,000 people were injured in clashes between protesters and security officials.

Some protesters had taken refuge in the Dolmabahce mosque on the banks of the Bosphorus near the Ottoman palace which Erdogan uses as his office in Istanbul.

Many were fleeing police firing tear gas and rubber bullets and the mosque was opened so injured protesters could receive medical aid.

Erdogan accused some of the demonstrators of entering the mosque armed with beer bottles and wearing shoes, allegations forming an essential part of the indictment prepared by Istanbul prosecutors.

Several trials related to the protests are already taking place across the country as the first anniversary of the unrest, which erupted on May 31, draws near.


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