World Bulletin/News Desk
A man for whom an İstanbul court issued an arrest warrant on charges of attacking Gezi Park protesters with a machete has allegedly fled to Morocco to escape arrest, Turkish media reported on Friday.
The İstanbul 1st High Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant on Thursday for confessed machete attacker Sabri Çelebi, who was released pending trial on Monday by another İstanbul court, after the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office appealed the decision.
Media reports indicate that Çelebi, whose wife is a Moroccan citizen, fled from İstanbul to Casablanca on a Turkish Airlines (THY) flight on Wednesday, then flew to Rabat.
Çelebi was detained on charges of injuring protesters during a Gezi Park protest on Sunday after media outlets broadcast video footage showing the man brandishing a machete and striking a woman with the flat of the blade. Police shown in the footage failed to respond, sparking a controversy that widened after Çelebi's statements in court -- where he said his business had been damaged by the Gezi Park protests and that the latest protest triggered his rage -- were reported.
His Monday release by the İstanbul 33rd Civil Court of First Instance also caused public outrage. The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office appealed the court's decision, after which the İstanbul 1st High Criminal Court issued Thursday's arrest warrant for the confessed machete attacker.
In a related incident, a group of people with machetes attacked demonstrators attending a forum in the Kocamustafapaşa neighborhood in İstanbul's Fatih district on Thursday evening. The machete attackers reportedly threatened the forum attendees by saying that if they gather again, they would kill all of them.
15 more detained for involvement in Gezi protests
Fifteen suspects were detained, on charges of engaging in illegal acts and inciting people to commit crimes during the Gezi protests, in simultaneous police operations conducted in four provinces on Friday morning.
The police carried out the operations in the western provinces of İzmir, Balıkesir, Bursa and Manisa. There were raids on 16 locations and those detained were taken to police stations for questioning.
According to the İzmir Police Department's counterterrorism unit, the identities of the detained suspects were determined from security camera footage. The police claim that the suspects were seen damaging public buildings, vehicles and offices and throwing Molotov cocktails during the demonstrations.
In earlier police operations, dozens of suspects were arrested for the same charges of engaging in illegal acts during the Gezi protests.
All detained members of Taksim Solidarity released
After İstanbul prosecutors sought arrests for 12 members of Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella organization opposed to the Taksim redevelopment plans, on charges of violating the public order and founding a criminal organization, a court released all of the detainees pending trial after a hearing on Thursday.
Prosecutors had earlier demanded the arrest of five members, including leading organizers Dr. Ali Çerkezoğlu and architect Mücella Yapıcı, on suspicion of founding an illegal criminal organization to lead the Gezi protests and incite violence. Arrests were also sought for seven other members of Taksim Solidarity who are accused of possessing gas masks and other suspicious materials.
Yapıcı and other leading figures face charges of organizing illegal protests through social media and inviting people to join mass demonstrations that went beyond peaceful protests.
Prosecutors also cited that the group occupied a public place for a lengthy period and the enduring Gezi protests reached a level that threatened public order and social peace. Yapıcı and the others have now been released pending trial.
Holding a press conference on Thursday evening in front of the İstanbul Courthouse following the court decision, Taksim Solidarity vowed to continue its struggle without interruption. The Taksim Solidarity stated that they have been gathering for 46 days with the same motivation and determination.
Deputy Chairman of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Gürsel Tekin along with several other CHP deputies came to the İstanbul Courthouse to express their support for Taksim Solidarity. Taksim Solidarity shouted the slogans, "That's just the beginning; the fight will continue," “Everywhere is Taksim; everywhere is resistance” and “Pressure cannot intimidate us,” following the press conference.Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Temmuz 2013, 13:08