A court in southwestern Turkey issued a detailed ruling in the case of a U.S. soldier who faced a protest by an ultranationalist group five years ago and said the "freedom" of Jesus Salazar Munoz was not restricted when protesters put a sack on his head.
Munoz was on a shore leave in Bodrum, a popular vacation resort, in October 2011 when members of the Youth Union of Turkey (TGB) approached him and put a sack on his head. The sack symbolizes retaliation for the infamous "hood event" in Iraq for ultranationalists. In 2003 a group of Turkish troops operating in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq as part of a special forces team were detained by U.S. troops who raided their safe house, allegedly acting on a tip-off that Turkmens in the safe house would carry out an assassination of a local Iraqi politician. The U.S. troops put hoods on the captured military personnel, including a major. The incident caused public outrage in Turkey and the soldiers were released after 60 hours in captivity.
The Bodrum court that acquitted eight TGB members in February and dismissed complaints by Munoz both on insult and assault charges, said defendants did not mean harm or abduction of the soldier as they staged their protest "in the busiest district of Bodrum, in a crowded space."
"It is clear that the defendants attempted to stage a demonstration against the soldier. Their actions and remarks at the time of the incident show that was their intention from the beginning. Their attempts (to put the sack on the head of Munoz) anyway was disrupted by the plaintiff himself and others at the scene. Thus, the plaintiff's freedom is not restricted in any way," the court said in the ruling.
The TGB has staged similar protests in the past. In the Eminönü district of Istanbul, they chased U.S. soldiers on foot and briefly put a sack on their heads last year. In April, a university student linked to the TGB who was at Incirlik air base in southern Turkey for an event, tried to put a sack on an American officer's head while his friend captured the moment on video where he declared it was in revenge for the 2003 incident in Iraq.
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