Irish 'boxer' acquitted in epic brawl case

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

A Kuwaiti-Irish national, whose brawl with Turkish shopkeepers in Istanbul two years ago went viral after it was captured on camera, was acquitted of assault charges in a trial Wednesday.

Heavy-set Mohammed Fadel Dobbous taking out a legion of shopkeepers one by one in scenes that inspired a beat'em up game, did not attend the trial at an Istanbul court while only one of the men who was assaulted appeared before the court. Şenol Palan, the shopkeeper who broke Dobbous's arm by hitting him with a stick, was given a suspended jail term of three years and six months.

The Irish man was trying to grab a bottle of water from a refrigerator in Palan's shop in Istanbul's Aksaray district when he accidentally knocked down all the bottles in the refrigerator with his muscular arm. What follows - as captured by the security camera footage - is Palan grabbing a stick and jumping on Dobbous. The tourist, who was on the street by the time the shopkeeper came at him, suddenly found himself surrounded by other shopkeepers in the area. Using his amateur boxing skills, Dobbous knocked out the men coming at him with sticks and even a chair, not flinching despite repeated blows. Şenol Palan and others have claimed Dobbous argued with him when he refused to sell him alcohol and deliberately knocked down the bottles. The Irish national had filed a complaint against the shopkeepers for his broken arm.

The court ruled that Dobbous acted in self-defense and Palan was guilty of "deliberate injury." Judges also suspended a requested fine for Özbey and Mohammad Raie, another assailant of the Irish tourist, ruling that their kicking and punching of Dobbous "did not cause any damage."

Dobbous, who was represented by his lawyers in yesterday's hearing, had told the court in the first hearing that the brawl happened "because of a water bottle."

"I don't remember what happened next. I was trying to save my life," he said. "When the bottles fell, the man in the shop tried to hit me with a stick. I grabbed it and threw it away. I was confused. Then, others came at me. I don't remember their faces. One man tried to stab me in the back," he claimed. Dobbous also said he "would be done" if he fell when the assailants hit him repeatedly.

Dobbous became an overnight sensation after the video of the almost comical beating emerged. He even received free holiday offers from Turkish tourism companies while several shops started offering "free water for Irish tourists" following the incident. A trade association whose members include shopkeepers in Aksaray has called on its members to be more tolerant and resort to legal means if they have a problem with tourists. The association then handed out leaflets to shops in Aksaray, urging them to improve their manners with tourists.

Turkish game developers even created a game called "Irish Boxer" following the incident. In the game, a character in the likeness of Dobbous starts with the "boxer" standing next to a refrigerator full of water bottles and proceeds with the character beating up angry shopkeepers wielding clubs, chairs and several other objects.

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