Prison term sought for taxi driver in scam, sexual assault case

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

Prosecutors in Istanbul have requested 25 years in prison for a taxi driver who added further shame to an already tainted reputation for the city's taxi drivers.

Birol T., who was caught on video by his victim, has caused a public outrage in the country where taxi drivers, particularly in Istanbul, are often accused of scamming tourists.

In the cellphone video recorded by Thai tourist Nioon S., the driver is seen trying to sexually assault the tourist and defrauding her.

The indictment said that the woman hired Birol T.'s taxi to travel to Beşiktaş. She first took the back seat but switched to the passenger seat in the front when the driver insisted.

The driver did not run the taximeter and verbally harassed the woman, before forcibly holding her hand. Nioon S. then handed TL 100 ($18.88) to the driver, who despite agreeing on TL 30, returned only TL 20 in change.

Birol T. is charged with sexual assault and attempt to theft. A date of hearing has not been set yet for the trial.

Istanbul taxi drivers, once praised for their gentlemanly ways, are nowadays loathed figures. However, they claim it is the result of a secret smear campaign by popular ride-hailing app Uber they sued for illegal and unfair competition. Their fares, rude manners, scams, and picking up wealthier tourists over locals have fueled anger that is apparent on social media.

In October, another taxi driver who overcharged two Iraqi tourists was indicted in a case where he faces five years in prison. Earlier this month, another driver was arrested for stealing money from two Brazilian tourists before he kicked them out of his taxi.

Earlier this week, the police launched simultaneous inspections against taxi drivers in 10 cities and fined 1,051 drivers for violating misdemeanors law and road safety laws. Some 192 cars were impounded by the police who inspected a total of 5,324 taxis.

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