US indicts 19 over brawl during Erdogan's visit to Washington

#Diplomacy

Eleven people were hurt in 'brutal attack' on peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence, police have said

File photo of a protest during the Turkish president's visit to Washington (AFP)
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Wednesday 30 August 2017 3:23 UTC
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A grand jury on Tuesday indicted 19 people, including 15 Turkish security officials, in connection with a brawl in Washington between protesters and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's security personnel in May, US prosecutors said.

Eleven people were hurt in what Washington's police chief described as a "brutal attack" on peaceful protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence during Erdogan's visit to the United States.

The incident, which took place after Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House, put further stress on already strained US-Turkey relations.

The US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement charges had already been brought against 16 of the defendants, and Tuesday's indictment added three to the list.

The three were named as Muhsin Kose, Yusuf Ayar and Harrettin Eren, adding they were among the 15 Turkish security officials indicted. The statement did not specify the others in the list.

"All 19 defendants were indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, with a bias crime enhancement," it said. The charge is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and bias enhancement could lead to longer sentences, the statement said.

Some defendants face additional charges.

Only two of the 19 are in custody, and they are due to appear in court on 7 September, the statement said.

The Turkish Embassy has blamed the violence on demonstrators whom it says are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Ankara and Washington consider a terrorist group.