Child abuse suspect denies accusations in first hearing

DHA photo

A teacher facing up to 600 years in prison on charges of sexually assaulting 10 male school children in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman has denied all accusations in the first hearing of the case.

The 54-year-old teacher, identified only by the initials M.B., pleaded not guilty in the April 20 hearing, which took place amid tight security measures.

"I did not do it. Police pressured me saying 'If you say this [in testimony] you will not be punished.' So I told them. But I am innocent," M.B. reportedly said.

The Karaman Governor's Office has banned reporters from attending the trial, while also prohibiting all press briefings, gatherings or rallies in the province.

The 54-year-old teacher, M.B., had been teaching private courses for students in apartments rented by the Karaman branch of the Ensar Foundation and the Karaman Religious Vocational High School (?mam Hatip) Alumni Association (KA?MDER) when reports surfaced of his sexual abuse of male students, sending shockwaves across the country. 

The first hearing in M.B.'s trial was closed, with no reporters permitted inside the courtroom. 

The Karaman Court of Serious Crimes conducted pre-trial sessions with the victims and recorded their testimonies. The children's allegations will be posed to M.B., who will participate in the trial through the Audio-Visual Information System (SEGB?S) from Ere?li prison, where he is currently behind bars. 

Meanwhile, the Karaman branch of the Ensar Foundation hung a massive Turkish flag over its sign in order to inhibit reporters from taking pictures.

The governor's office also took extreme security measures, stopping cars at the entry points to the province and performing identity checks on everyone. A...

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