Turkish man accused of punching opposition leader receives warm welcome upon release

The man detained for punching main opposition Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the face on Sunday was met with a warm welcome by pro-government figures and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters after being released late Tuesday.

Osman Sarıgün, who is accused of attacking 70-year-old Kılıçdaroğlu at a military funeral in Ankara on Sunday, was released under judicial control, with no formal charges against him, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) former deputy Mehmet Külünk called Sarıgün on the phone, wishing him well, the former lawmaker shared on Twitter.

Külünk also criticized the AKP’s decision to send Sarıgün to the disciplinary commission with the request of his expulsion from the party.

AKP supporters visited Sarıgün in his village in Ankara  after his release, posing for a picture with the suspect in which they are kissing his hand as a sign of respect, Turkish news site ABC gazetesi reported.

Meanwhile, 800 lawyers have offered their services pro bono for Sarıgün, Ötekiler Postası reported. 

Turkish Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu on Wednesday announced that the person who punched CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu was not related to the soldier who lost his life.

The interior minister had previously he had announced the person was related to the fallen soldier and was from that village.

Sarıgün was fired from his job as a truck driver three months ago, after being caught stealing, Tele 1 news site quoted his former boss as saying. 

"He worked at my company as a truck driver. We had fired him three months ago for stealing. I strongly condemn his attack against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu,’’ Ahmet Tetik said.