A Turkish prosecutor is seeking a total of 335 years in prison for 14 students who took part in protests against the government-appointed rector of İstanbul’s Boğaziçi University for “refusing to disperse despite warnings and the use of force,” the Diken news website reported.
The prosecutor demanded a prison sentence of 27-and-a-half years for Berke Gök, almost 26 years for Eftalya Koyuncu and 23 years, six months for the 12 other students.
According to the indictment, the students were accused of “refusing to disperse despite warnings and the use of force,” “resisting police,” “insulting public officers” and “damaging state property.”
The court adjourned the trial until February 3.
A prolonged series of protests took place at Boğaziçi University after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed Melih Bulu, a founding member of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Sarıyer district branch and former deputy chairman of the AKP’s İstanbul provincial chapter, as rector in January 2021.
Shortly after Bulu’s dismissal by a presidential decree in July 2021, the university community demanded that a democratic election be held at the university to elect a new rector, adding that they would not accept the appointment of a rector to replace Bulu, either from within or without the university, since they oppose the appointment of rectors by Erdoğan.
However, Erdoğan on Aug. 20, 2021 appointed Naci İnci, a former deputy to Bulu, as the new rector, despite a 95 percent disapproval rating he received in polls held among the university community to determine possible rector candidates, again prompting outrage among academics and students.
University staff members have been standing with their backs turned to the rectorate building every day in protest of the presidentially appointed rectors.
İnci has suspended 16 academics over their participation in protests against presidentially appointed rectors at the school.