WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Experts say the indictment of 15 Turkish security officials for allegedly beating protesters outside a diplomatic compound here in D.C. offers one encouraging sign.
Despite President Trump's open admiration of Turkey's authoritarian leader, the Justice Department is pursuing the case against his Presidential security detail.
But they also say it's unlikely any of the accused will ever be extradited from Turkey to face charges in a D.C. courtroom.
Moments after Turkey's President pulled up to the embassy residence on Sheridan Circle in May, prosecutors say his guards attacked a group of what prosecutors say were peaceful protesters.
President Erdogan looked on and then walked inside.
Now a D.C. grand jury has indicted 19 people, including those 15 members of Erdogan's security detail, on charges of conspiracy to commit violence and hate crimes against the Kurdish protesters
“One guy held my neck and twisted my arm behind my back,” one victim told us after the attack. “I was thinking he was going to kill me.” Prosecutors say the guards even beat a 12-year-old child.
Just before the attack, a guard leans into the car to talk to President Erdogan, then he says something into his radio, and then the rampage began.
Why didn't the prosecutors indict President Erdogan?
“Politically, it's a huge deal to indict the President of a nation state,” said Jennifer Daskal, a law professor at American University, and a former National Security expert at the Justice Department. She says the evidence would have to be strong.
“One hopes and expects, and it appears to be the case, that the Department of Justice is acting independently here,” she said. “They're not being told what to do by the White House. They're pursuing prosecution, as they should be.”
The State Department calls the attacks "deeply disturbing" and says it's raised concerns at the "highest levels."
An official told WUSA9, "holding the responsible individuals accountable is of the upmost importance to us."
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