Erdogan bodyguards indicted for beating pro-Kurdish protesters during his U.S. visit

Turkish judge adjourns trial of Erdogan 'assassins'

Fifteen of the people for whom the D.C. grand jury returned indictments are Turkish security officials who allegedly assaulted protesters who demonstrated against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during and after his visit to the White House in May.

They are accused of conspiring to attack Armenian and Kurdish demonstrators - an offence punishable by up to 15 years in jail - as well as assaulting United States police who intervened.

In a fresh indictment, a total of 19 members of Erdogan's security detail were identified from detailed video footage of the May 16 daylight attack on Kurdish and Armenian protesters outside the residence of Turkey's ambassador, following a meeting between Erdogan and President Donald Trump. Two were arrested in June, while the other 17 remain at large.

Nine people were taken to the hospital after the violent skirmish, but none were seriously injured.

All 19 of the defendants have been charged with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence with a hate crime enhancement.

American officials strongly criticised Turkey's government and Erdogan's security forces for the violence; the State Department summoned Turkey's USA ambassador to complain.

On the day of the violence, police detained two members of Erdogan's security detail but released them shortly afterward. The overreaction of his "security guards" ended up looking much worse than any anti-Erdogan demonstration ever could.

Several face additional charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

"We are protesting in the strongest terms that a biased indictment is accepted".

Turkey's foreign ministry fired back at the allegations, however, summoning the US envoy to Turkey to Ankara to lodge a formal complaint over the incident and casting blame on the USA for its occurrence.

Tuesday's indictment states that most of the demonstrators were supporters of Kurdish independence but repeatedly maintains that their protest was peaceful and permitted.

Sixteen of those indicted were Turkish "security guards" who attacked demonstrators, injuring several. It also charges that they "blatantly ignored American law enforcement commands to cease the violence". The charges all carry a "bias crime enhancement" which brings stiffer penalties because the attack was "based on the actual or perceived ethnicity and political affiliation" of the victims.

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