Europe

Turkish court acquits Gezi Park protest leaders

Turkish protesters clash with riot police at the city's main Taksim Square in Istanbul on 1 June 2013 Image copyright AP
Image caption The protests in 2013 turned into mass anti-government rallies following a police crackdown

A Turkish court has acquitted 26 people charged over their role in organising protests against leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul in 2013.

The suspects are leaders of Taksim Solidarity, an umbrella group at the forefront of the demonstrations.

They were accused of setting up a criminal group and violating public order and faced up to 30 years in jail.

Activist Mucella Yapici told AFP: "All of us were acquitted. It was an absurd case."

Human rights campaigners had demanded the charges be dropped, with Amnesty International calling it a "politically motivated show trial".

The protests began over plans to redevelop Istanbul's Gezi Park in May 2013, but turned into mass anti-government rallies after a heavy-handed police crackdown.

Mr Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time, said the demonstrations were the work of "riff-raff".

Hundreds of others are still being prosecuted across Turkey for alleged crimes related to the protests.

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