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Erdogan guards face three new indictments over Washington DC brawl

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Turkey’s present state of emergency allows President Erdogan to rule by decree despite the fact that his role is largely ceremonial

The US Justice Department charged three more bodyguards of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for assaulting protesters in Washington in May in a brawl that marred an official White House visit.

The goons are accused of conspiring to attack Armenian and Kurdish demonstrators - which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison - as well as assaulting USA law enforcement who tried to intervene.

16 of those charged had previously been indicted on June 13, with an additional 3, all Turkish security, added on Tuesday. Two Turkish-American businessmen were arrested in June for their roles in the daylight attack on protestors and face an initial court hearing on September 7.

The violence kicked off just after Erdogan arrived at the residence during his first visit to the US following President Trump's election. Nine people were injured in the melee.

The district attorney levelled 21 counts of assault and hate crimes based on the victims' ethnicity.

Two Turkish bodyguards were briefly detained after the incident. All but two of the people indicted Tuesday remain at large.

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The Turkish Embassy claimed the protesters, who were located across the street from the Embassy, were members of a terror group.

Despite the indictments, it is unlikely that most of the defendants will face actual jail time.

Turkey's official Anadolu news agency said at the time that Erdogan's security team moved in to disperse the protesters because "police did not heed to Turkish demands to intervene".

USA officials have strongly condemned the attack but Turkey argued that the security guards have diplomatic immunity. Turkey's ambassador to the USA was also summoned to the State Department to discuss the incident. "The members and associates of the conspiracy used threats and physical violence-intensely kicking at protesters-to dispel the anti-Erdoğan protesters, attack the anti-Erdoğan protesters, and blatantly ignore American law enforcement commands to cease the violence".

The indictment characterizes the protesters as anti-Erdogan, some of whom were Kurdish and calling for the release of an imprisoned leader of a pro-Kurdish political party, the HDP.

All 19 are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime of violence, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years.

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