Five suspects arrested in connection with a May protest against the prime minister in the Black Sea district of Hopa were acquitted Oct. 24 by the Hopa Court due to a lack of evidence.
Cengiz Akyüz, Şinasi Gümüşkaya, İdris Akbıyık, Şaban Kotil and Şafak Ustabaş were charged with damaging public property and mistreating public personnel. They faced between two and 12 years in prison.
“I was there because I was protesting against the construction of hydroelectric power plants in the region. The police attacked us and used pepper spray. Now I have been in prison for the past five months,” Gümüşkaya told the court.
After other suspects also rejected the charges, the court decided to release the five due to a lack of evidence.
Twelve people were arrested by police after the May 31 clashes that broke out between police and protesters before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a rally in the town, which borders Georgia.
Seven other suspects arrested in connection with the protest against the prime minister were acquitted last month by the specially authorized Erzurum Court for Serious Crimes due to a similar lack of evidence.
Tensions ran high outside the courthouse as police officers faced off against 150 protestors, eventually detaining another eight demonstrators.