Turkish police injured in clashes over Morsi death sentence

AFP , Ahram Online , Saturday 23 May 2015

Mohammed Morsi
Egypt's ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi sits in a defendant cage in the Police Academy courthouse in Cairo (Photo: AP)

At least 11 Turkish police officers were injured in clashes with Islamist demonstrators in the Kurdish-majority southeast who were protesting the death sentence given by an Egyptian court to former president Mohamed Morsi, the provincial governor said Saturday.

The protesters had gathered outside a mosque in the Diyarbakir province following Friday prayers and read out a statement denouncing the verdict, chanting "God is great", an AFP photographer said.

Police fired teargas and water cannon at protesters when they attempted to march towards Diyarbakir's main square.

The protesters, including members of the Islamist Huda-Par, known to be the political extension of Turkish Hezbollah, as well as members of dozens of Muslim NGO groups, responded by throwing stones, prompting clashes with club-wielding riot police.

The Diyarbakir governor's office said in a statement that at least 11 police officers had been hurt in the clashes and that "extensive damage" had been caused to the city.

Around 20 people were arrested.                                

Turkey condemned the May 16 court ruling sentencing Morsi and 105 other defendants to death for their role in a mass jailbreak in 2011.

In the Natroun jailbreak case, the prosecution charged Morsi and co-defendants with damaging and setting fire to prison buildings, murder, attempted murder, looting prison weapons depots and releasing prisoners.

The prisoners, who broke out of jail in 2011, include members of the Palestinian Hamas movement, Lebanon's Hezbullah, jihadists, Muslim Brotherhood members and varied criminals, according to the prosecution.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been one of the staunchest supporters of Morsi's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Where Erdogan condemned the death sentence handed out to Morsi, saying it was like a return to "ancient Egypt", AFP reported.

"The popularly-elected president of Egypt... has unfortunately been sentenced to death. Egypt is turning back into ancient Egypt," Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul, accusing the West of "turning a blind eye" to what he described as the 2013 coup that ousted Morsi.

Tensions are running high in Turkey in the run-up to parliamentary elections on June 7 that Erdogan views as crucial to rewrite the constitution to create a powerful executive-style presidency if his AKP party secures a commanding majority in parliament.

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