Turkish opposition leader’s attacker says killing him would have been easy

A man accused of attacking Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, at a soldier’s funeral in Ankara in April last year said killing him would have been easy, the ANKA news agency reported.

Vahit Delibaş, one of the men accused of attempting to lynch Kılıçdaroğlu, defended himself to a court on Monday, saying the attack was designed to provoke a large crowd at the funeral. He spoke in a first hearing against the alleged perpetrators, ANKA said.

"He wouldn't have got out of there if we'd wanted to kill him," Delibaş said.

Kılıçdaroğlu, who leads the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the second-largest party in parliament after the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), was jostled, shoved and punched by members of an angry mob at the military funeral, who shouted slogans accusing him of supporting a Kurdish militant group blamed for the soldier’s death.

Delibaş told the court that a stick he had wielded in his hand as he approached a building where Kılıçdaroğlu later sheltered was meant for protection against dogs.

Thirty-six people are being tried in the case. The charges against them carry prison sentences of between one year and 28 years. Delibaş is accused of attempted murder.

The CHP’s security team rushed Kılıçdaroğlu to his car as the crowd surrounded him. The vehicle was pelted with large stones. He was driven to a nearby house, which was quickly surrounded by an angry, stone-throwing mob. Riot police were then deployed to support officers at the scene and escort Kılıçdaroğlu to an armoured vehicle, with which he fled.