Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a lawsuit against the head of the country’s main opposition party for TL 500,000 ($71,000) in damages due to remarks holding Erdoğan responsible for the killing of 13 Turks at the hands of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, Turkish media outlets reported.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of claims for damages brought by Erdoğan against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on Sunday that Turkish soldiers discovered 13 bodies in a cave in the Gara region of northern Iraq, where Ankara launched an operation against the PKK on Feb. 10. Turkey accuses the PKK of executing the hostages, while the PKK claims they were killed in Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) airstrikes.
The killing of the 13 hostages at the hands of the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, led to shock in Turkey as the public was not even aware that the PKK had been holding the men — most of whom were security force members — hostage since as early as 2015.
At a meeting of his party earlier this week, Kılıçdaroğlu put the responsibility for the killing of the hostages directly on Erdoğan, asking him why he did not use his power to ensure the safe return of the 13 men.
Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks attracted heavy criticism from Erdoğan, who at a party meeting on Wednesday called him “shameless” for holding Erdoğan responsible for the killings.
“You are saying that Erdoğan is responsible for the killing of 13 men. How shameless you are! How on earth can you hold me, who has been following the case of these martyrs for five years, six years, responsible for their deaths? You shameless man,” Erdoğan told Kılıçdaroğlu.
Kılıçdaroğlu also filed a lawsuit against Erdoğan for his comments, seeking a symbolic 5 kuruş in damages, his lawyer announced from Twitter on Wednesday.