Doğan Bilmez / Kayseri, Nov 2 () - Twenty-eight suspects in a case into the Gezi Park protests of summer 2013 have been sentenced to jail terms ranging from five months to one year, in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri.
Kayseri’s 8th Criminal Court of First Instance ruled for jail time between five months and one year for 28 suspects, out of a total 161 suspects. The case related to protests in Kayseri on June 1, 2013 in solidarity with simultaneous protests in Istanbul initially sparked by plans to raze Gezi Park, next to the central Taksim Square.
One of the suspects was convicted for “harming public property,” two suspects were convicted for “harming property,” and 25 suspects were convicted for “resisting a public official.” All 28 suspects were sentenced to between five months to one year in prison.
All 161 suspects in the case were acquitted of “defamation of public officials” charges.
Footage from the day of the protests in Kayseri was shown during the trial, during which the suspects denied the allegations.
Seçkin Öztürk, one of the lawyers of the suspects, said they did not act with the intention of “harming property and/or public property,” “defaming public officials,” or any other alleged crimes.
“None of the people who attended the protest intended to commit a crime. Everybody was using their constitutional right,” said Öztürk, demanding the acquittal of all suspects.
Another lawyer in the case, Nebahat Ülker, said there were no elements of crime in the suspects’ actions, claiming that “omnibus crimes” were being created in Turkey just like controversial “omnibus bills.”
The Gezi protests began in late May 2013 as an effort to stop bulldozers from razing central Istanbul’s Gezi Park, one of the few green spaces left in the Taksim neighborhood, to build a shopping mall. Unrest quickly spread across Turkey, developing into a revolt against what protesters said was the increasing authoritarianism of Erdoğan’s decade-long rule.
Eight protesters were killed during the unrest.
Recently, a local court in Istanbul sentenced 244 participants in the 2013 Gezi protests to jail time for a range of crimes, including “polluting a mosque.”
On Oct. 23, the 55th Criminal Court of First Instance in Istanbul sentenced 244 of 255 defendants to up to one year and two months’ imprisonment. Only four of the defendants were acquitted, while charges against four suspects were separated from the case file.
Some 255 protesters, including seven foreigners, were charged 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 indictment had sought up to 11 years in jail for the suspects.