An indictment seeking lifelong aggravated imprisonment for 16 suspects for their alleged role in trying to overthrow the government by inciting the 2013 Gezi Park protests was accepted by a Turkish court on Monday.
The Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court accepted the indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office.
The suspects include businessman and activist Osman Kavala, now-defunct Open Society Foundation's Turkey branch chairman and academic Ali Hakan Altınay, Istanbul Chamber of Architects former general-secretary and Taksim Solidarity executive Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı, journalist Can Dündar, actor Memet Ali Alabora, actress Ayşe Pınar Öğün Alabora. Other suspects, namely Çiğdem Mater Utku, Gökçe Yılmaz, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, İnanç Ekmekçi, Mine Özerden, Şerafettin Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, Yiğit Aksakoğlu and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi, were previously implicated in an investigation linked to Anadolu Kültür Association chaired by Kavala, who is often branded the "Turkish Soros" for his links to the controversial Hungarian-American tycoon George Soros. He is known for his close ties to the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a party linked to the PKK terrorist group.
Soros's Open Society Foundation said it had become a target of the investigation and would cease operations in Turkey.
Kavala, who was arrested in November 2017 and faces 612 to 3,158 years in prison, is one of the two arrested suspects along with Aksakoğlu, who was among the Anadolu Kültür-linked figures detained in November 2018.
Kavala was photographed among rioters while Mehmet Ali Alabora famously tweeted that the protests were not about "a few trees" in the park.
Six suspects are at large, including Dündar, who fled to Germany as the appeal process on his espionage sentencing in the controversial MİT trucks case was ongoing.
The indictment citing 746 plaintiffs including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses the suspects of financing and coordinating the actions and protests that took place during Gezi Park riots in 2013, while claiming that they had been involved and directed the aspects of an uprising since 2011.
Prosecutors accuse defendants of holding a series of meetings to plan the riots and contacting foreign activists on how to launch riots.
It said the defendants "at best wanted to force the government to resign or call early elections" and were making efforts "to prepare the grounds for a civil war or coup" if that did not happen.
Several suspects also face charges of damage to property, unauthorized possession of hazardous substances, damaging houses of worship and cemeteries, violation of law on firearms and knives, qualified robbery and bodily injury.
The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), a traditionally left-wing professional union of which some defendants are members, said the indictment was part of efforts "to defame and sully the honorable history of Gezi."
"We see the bad intentions despite all its dirtiness and we reject it with all our clarity," TMMOB said in a statement published earlier on Monday.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Istanbul in June 2013 in what began as a peaceful protest against a plan to build a replica of an Ottoman barracks on Gezi Park in the city center. Following a harsh response by the police, which is now blamed on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the protests turned into nationwide demonstrations and riots against the government of then-Prime Minister Erdoğan.
At least 10 protesters and one police officer died during clashes or events related to the protests while thousands of others were injured.
Terrorist groups including the PKK and the far-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) and various other fringe groups also jumped on the occasion, attacking security forces or taking part in rioting.
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