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Man who staged attack at HDP office in İstanbul released pending trial

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A man who staged an attack at the office of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in İstanbul’s Bahçelievler district in December has been released from jail pending trial, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

The assailant, identified as Muhammed Eren Sütçü, who was carrying a gun and a knife, injured two party employees during the attack on Dec. 28.

Sütçü appeared before a penal court of first instance in İstanbul in the first hearing of his trial on June 7, where he faced charges of threatening a person with a weapon, insult and attempting to injure a person with a weapon.

Considering the gravity of the charges, the penal court of first instance decided that the case should be referred to a high criminal court and sent the file to the 13th Criminal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Court.

The criminal chamber ruled for Sütçü’s trial to be held at a high criminal court.

The Bakırköy 18th High Criminal Court, which held the first hearing on Wednesday, ruled for his release considering time spent in pre-trial detention, leading to widespread criticism.

The court adjourned the trial until Dec. 7.

HDP sources said at the time that Sütçü attacked the party employees with a knife when his revolver jammed, thus avoiding an even bigger tragedy. They also said the attacker, who was restrained thanks to the help of nearby store owners, threatened to kill all the people in the office.

The attack in Bahçelievler was the second such incident at an HDP office in 2021. Another assailant staged an attack at an HDP office in the western province of İzmir in June, killing a party employee.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as their election partner, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP,) have long portrayed the HDP as the political front of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community. The party denies links to PKK and says it is working to achieve a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and is only coming under attack because of its strong opposition to Erdoğan’s 20-year rule.

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