October 23, 2015 / 7:54 PM / 3 years ago

Turkish court sentences 244 to jail over 2013 protests: newspaper

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court on Friday sentenced 244 people to up to 14 months in jail over protests in 2013 that began as a bid to stop the redevelopment of an Istanbul park and spiraled into the worst political unrest for years, a major newspaper reported.

Some 255 people had been charged with crimes such as damaging public property and taking part in illegal protests, and judicial authorities sought jail sentences of up to 11 years, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.

The demonstrations over Istanbul’s Gezi Park and the police crackdown captured international attention and sparked concern about growing authoritarian rule in Turkey. President Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the protesters as “riff raff” and terrorists.

The unrest spread to cities around the country.

On Friday, a local Istanbul criminal court handed down sentences ranging from 2-14 months to 244 defendants, the newspaper said. Of the 255 defendants, only four were acquitted while others had their charges separated from the case file.

Four doctors were sentenced to 10 months in prison for “polluting a mosque”, after giving medical aid to protesters inside a mosque following a clash with police, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.

Erdogan had previously said that some of the protesters had imbibed alcohol in the mosque.

Judicial authorities were unavailable for comment.

Reporting by David Dolan; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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