December 21, 2017 / 7:22 PM / 6 months ago

Two men plead guilty to assault after brawl near Turkey's embassy in U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two men pleaded guilty on Thursday to felony assault in a street brawl in May near the Turkish embassy in Washington during a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Sinan Narin, 45, of McLean, Virginia, and Eyup Yildirim, 50, of Manchester, New Jersey each pleaded guilty to one count of assault in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Sentencing for the two is scheduled for March 15, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

The May 16 clash between Turkish security personnel and demonstrators protesting against Erdogan’s government strained relations between Turkey and the United States. Eleven people were hurt. In June U.S. prosecutors charged a dozen Turkish security and police officers with assault. [nL1N1JC118]

Turkey blamed the brawl outside its ambassador’s residence on demonstrators linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party, while Washington’s police chief referred to it as a “brutal attack” on peaceful protesters. [nL2N1IJ1DW]

According to the plea deals released by the Justice Department on Thursday, a pro-Erdogan crowd that day “outnumbered the protesters by at least two to one.”

Prosecutors said Narin, who was employed as a limousine driver and was not associated with Turkish security personnel, was captured on video kicking a protester who then suffered a concussion.

Yildirim was also captured on video kicking another protester, prosecutors said. That protester also suffered a concussion, and needed five stitches. He is also not associated with Turkish security personnel, the Justice Department said.

(Refiles to correct spelling of Erdogan in 4th paragraph.)

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Susan Thomas

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