A Turkish teacher accused of sexually abusing children in guest houses run by Islamic foundations was handed a 508-year jail sentence in a case that has stirred recrimination between a government with roots in political Islam and its opponents.
A brief brawl erupted between protesters and security forces outside the courthouse after the ruling. Riot police created a human shield for the convict, who rejected all charges, as he was escorted to a bus to take him to jail.
The teacher, identified in the Turkish media as a 54-year-old male, received the sentence on Wednesday for abusing 10 children in homes allegedly run by the Ensar and KAIMDER charitable foundations in the conservative southern city of Karaman in 2012-15.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, head of the ruling AK Party, had vowed that anyone responsible for abuse would be held to account. But he has also said the allegations are being used for political gain and to tarnish the Islamic foundations, which both deny responsibility.
The main secularist opposition and rights groups have criticized the AK Party, founded by President Tayyip Erdogan, for seeking to defend the foundations, accusing them of running illegal guesthouses for minors, which Ensar and KAIMDER deny.