Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

The students are facing charges for protesting against the appointment of a rector at Bogazici University last October.

A Turkish court has ordered the release of two university students who spent three months in the first trial of a broader campus case demonstrations against the government’s appointment of a rector at Istanbul’s Bogazici University.

Berke Gok and Perit Ozen, who were sent to prison awaiting trial, were released on Friday. The students were charged with violating the law regarding protests, preventing public officials from doing their duty and intercepting a vehicle among other crimes.

The protests briefly spread elsewhere in Istanbul and to other cities, leading to the brief detention of hundreds of people.

The two students are expected to leave Istanbul’s high-security Silivri prison later on Friday, prosecutor Gokhan Soysal told the DPA news agency, but the trial against them and 12 other students will resume on March 21.

The court imposed a travel ban on the two, the lawyer added.

Prior to the trial, students gathered in support of the accused near Istanbul’s main court with signs demanding their freedom.

Burcin Sahan, a lawyer for the couple, said after the trial that “judicial harassment” against the students should end.

The accused were among a group of protesters who blocked Rector Naci Inci’s car in October. A person got into the car, according to the Istanbul governor’s office.

Sergey Lagodinksy, a member of the European Parliament, said before the verdict that the charges against the students should be dropped and called their detention “absolutely unjustified”.

“Expressing your opinion in public and peacefully is a fundamental right,” he said on Twitter.

Students and faculty members of Bogazici University, some of whom gathered daily with their backs to the rector’s building, said the protests would continue until a rector was elected by university members and academic freedoms were secured.

Numerous people were targeted in connection with the protests and the police used violence against peaceful protesters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has even claimed protesters had alleged terrorist ties.

A separate court hearing against 97 accused will resume next week.

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