Man sentenced over 2014 Kobane protests despite being away from the scene

A Turkish court has sentenced a 21-year-old man to an aggravated life sentence over his alleged involvement in the Kobane protests from seven years ago, despite the overwhelming evidence that he was at a wedding at the time of the protests. Mazlum İçli was 14 years old at the time of the protests.

Duvar English

Mazlum İçli was 14 years old when he was arrested in the aftermath of the Oct. 6-8, 2014 Kobane protests for allegedly being involved in the murder of four people.

However, a newly surfaced video footage showed that İçli was at a wedding 140 kilometers away from the scene of the Kobane protests, Deutsche Welle's Turkish service reported on Nov. 29. 

The relevant footage was examined by a commission of experts who ruled that the person in the images was “most probably” İçli. The gendarmerie confirmed that a wedding had really taken place on Oct. 7, 2014 in the Diyarbakır's Kulp district at the Keçiveren hamlet.

The wedding organizers and a taxi driver also confirmed İçli's presence at the wedding. On top of that, base transceiver stations emitted signals from İçli's mobile phone in the vicinity of the wedding area.

In the face of these new evidence, on June 25, the court separated İçli's case from those of 15 other suspects and halted the execution of the prison sentence. But during the judiciary process, a new eyewitness emerged who testified against İçli. 

S.Ö., who was alleged to be a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), claimed that he had met İçli before and that İçli had been involved in activities of the PKK's youth wing known as the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H). S.Ö. said that he was not in Diyarbakır at the time of the Kobane protests, which is why did not know whether İçli was involved in them or not. 

In the face of this new eyewitness' statements, the Ankara 2nd Heavy Penal Court changed its decision and on Nov. 29 sentenced İçli to aggravated life sentence on charges of killing Yasin Börü, a 16-year-old teenager who was associated with Hüda-Par, an Islamist party allied with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The court said that it could not understand when the footage from the relevant wedding was recorded.

İçli's lawyer Mahsuni Karaman said that the court's decision is “political” and the government has “intervened” in the case since it underlies the Yasin Börü case. As the government has been using Börü's death as a symbol of violence and blaming the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) for the teenager's death, İçli's acquittal of the charges would shatter such a discourse, Karaman said.

Karaman appealed the case at the Court of Cassation, saying in his petition that the Yasin Börü case was being used for political purposes.

“An acquittal ruling will open the legitimacy of these [Kobane] trials to debate,” Karaman said, deeming the ruling on İçli's case an “operation” of the government.

A total of 108 HDP politicians, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, are on trial over the Kobani protests which took place between Oct. 6 and 8, 2014 and caused the deaths of dozens. Protesters flooded streets in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast at the time, outraged over the Turkish government's inaction in protecting Syrian Kurds as ISIS besieged Kobane, just across the Syrian border. 

Ankara accuses the HDP of inciting violence whereas the party says that it was doing everything it can to prevent bloodshed via being in contact with government officials.