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Man who punched opposition leader in 2019 gets suspended sentence

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An Ankara court has handed down a two-year suspended sentence to Osman Sarıgün, who punched Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu at a funeral in 2019 for “intentional injury,” in a move that drew criticism from the CHP, the Sözcü daily reported on Tuesday.

Kılıçdaroğlu was physically attacked by a group of people in the Çubuk district of Ankara on April 22, 2019 as he attended the funeral of a Turkish soldier who died in a skirmish with militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a deadly war against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Following the attack the CHP leader took shelter in a house in the neighborhood with police officers providing security. The house was stoned by the mob and there were even calls to set it on fire.

At the seventh hearing of the trial of the CHP leader’s attackers, Sarıgün was sentenced to two years, one month in prison for committing “intentional injury,” while other defendants were sentenced for “damaging property” and “deprivation of liberty.”

The Çubuk 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance then suspended the sentences, meaning the conviction would not appear on the defendants’ records provided they do not commit a similar offense during their probation period of five years.

Muharrem Erkek, deputy chairman of the CHP, spoke to reporters following the hearing, saying it wasn’t possible to appeal the verdict since the court suspended it.

“We know very well who is behind the ‘lynching attempt’ and who organized it. This is also a planned murder attempt. … As we always say, the judiciary has come under the control of the legislative [power] in [Erdoğan’s] one-man rule,” Erkek added.

Another CHP deputy chairman, Engin Özkoç, described the court’s decision as “pure comedy,” pointing to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu as the instigators of the 2019 attack.

“On the one hand, [we have] cases filed because of a word or a tweet [allegedly insulting government officials] that demand heavy penalties; on the other, [we have] these absurd sentences given to those who ‘lynched’ the leader of the main opposition party, attempting to take his life. What law, what justice, what conscience [are we talking about here]?” CHP’s İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu also said in a tweet.

The 2019 attack targeting Kılıçdaroğlu came as the pro-government media had been attacking CHP politicians for making an alliance in the local elections with the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling party depict as an extension of the PKK, despite the fact that it is represented in the Turkish parliament.

Due to the support of the HDP for Turkey’s opposition alliance in the 2019 local elections, the ruling AKP suffered heavy losses in big cities, including İstanbul, Ankara and Antalya.

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