A former advisor to then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who in 2014 had kicked the relative of a victim of Turkey’s largest mining disaster on camera, has been appointed as a commercial attaché at the Turkish Consulate General in Frankfurt, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Sözcü daily.
Yusuf Yerkel sparked public outrage in May 2014 when he in front of the cameras kicked the relative of one of the 301 victims of the tragedy during a visit to Soma in Manisa province, where the accident took place. The man and others were protesting Erdoğan, whose policies they held responsible for the tragedy.
Sözcü said Yerkel, who doesn’t have a degree in business, will be given a monthly salary of 6,000 euros during his assignment as commercial attaché, which will last for three or four years. He and his family will be granted diplomatic immunity and their travel and healthcare expenses in Turkey will be paid by the Turkish government.
The appointment of Yerkel as commercial attaché in Frankfurt has sparked strong criticism from opposition parties, not only due to his treatment of the protestor in Soma but also due to his alleged lack of training to fulfill the responsibilities of a commercial attaché.
Onursal Adıgüzel, deputy chairman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), tweeted no matter to where Yerkel is appointed or what post he assumes, he will continue to be remembered for the infamous photo showing him kicking the protestor.
Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, tweeted: “’Kicking advisor’ Yusuf Yerkel has been appointed commercial attaché in Frankfurt! For what reason could this person, who is no expert in foreign trade, have been appointed to this post?”
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader President Erdoğan are widely criticized for filling state posts with their cronies and eschewing merit-based assignments.
Yerkel has a bachelor’s degree from the politics and international relations department of a university in İstanbul, according to his biography.