U.S. Supreme Court rejects Turkey’s bid to stop Washington brawl lawsuits
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear Turkey's bid to dismiss two lawsuits filed by demonstrators seeking monetary damages over alleged injuries at the hands of Turkish security forces during a 2017 protest in Washington coinciding with a visit by the Turkish President, Reuters reported.
The justices denied an appeal by Turkey of lower court rulings allowing the litigation to proceed, Reuters said, rejecting the country’s argument that a federal law, known as the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, granting it immunity from such legal action in the United States.
Eleven people were injured and nine were taken to the hospital in May 2017 after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security detail attacked protesters carrying the flag of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party outside the Turkish president’s residence in the U.S. capital.
The brawl came the same day that Erdoğan met his American then-counterpart Donald Trump at the White House, where the two leaders promised to strengthen strained ties despite the Turkish president’s warning to Trump about arming the Kurdish militants in the region.
In 2018, two lawsuits were filed over the incident, one by 15 plaintiffs and the other by five, seeking to hold Ankara responsible and asking for monetary damages for injuries that included concussions, seizures and lost teeth. The plaintiffs sought tens of millions of dollars, Reuters said, citing court papers.
Turkey has appealed the case led the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, citing the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the Federal Tort Claims Act, and Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which limits the jurisdiction of American courts over lawsuits against foreign governments. The court in 2021ruled against Turkey.
Turkey has blamed the brawl on demonstrators linked to Kurdish militants, but the Washington police chief described the incident as a "brutal attack" on peaceful protesters, Reuters reported.
Criminal assault charges were brought in Washington against several Turkish security agents and others involved in the brawl. Two defendants in the case, who are not members of Erdoğan's security team, pleaded guilty and U.S. prosecutors dropped charges against 11 agents in 2018.