Prosecutor seeking to overturn Gezi trial acquittal

The prosecutor’s office of Turkey’s supreme appeals court has requested the reversal of the decision in 2015 to acquit 35 people over charges relating to the 2013 anti-government Gezi Park protests, Cumhuriyet said on Saturday.

Members of Çarşı, supporters of the Istanbul football team Beşiktaş, were among a group of 35 people acquitted over charges brought in 2014 of attempting to overthrow the government, and establishing and managing criminal and terrorist organisations.

The defendants faced life sentences if convicted, but they were acquitted on 29 December 2015 by a criminal court in Istanbul.

Çarşı are generally associated with left-leaning politics and - alongside other football fans, including from rival clubs - they were at the forefront of the 2013 Gezi park protests, which started as a small sit-in against the redevelopment of an Istanbul park, but turned into a wave of anti-government demonstrations across Turkey, with an estimated four million people taking to the streets in 80 out of 81 provinces.

Lawsuits related to the protests included the trial of two police officers who killed two protesters. One police officer was fined 5,000 liras ($700) for the second degree murder of Ethem Sarısülük, and another was convicted to six years in prison for manslaughter for the death of Abdullah Cömert.

Meanwhile, 16 civil society activists, including Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala, faced life sentences for attempting to overthrow the government over their alleged involvement with the protests.

Kavala, along with 13 other suspects, was eventually acquitted, but remains in prison due to new charges of espionage. The acquittal is also currently being appealed by a prosecutor.

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