Turkey brands swimming goggles 'weapons'

Istanbul - A Turkish court has ruled that swimming goggles and other protective equipment used by protesters during this year's mass street demonstrations were "weapons", local media reported on Friday.

Demonstrators armed themselves with home-made gear such as masks made of plastic bottles, motorbike helmets and goggles to protect themselves from tear gas fired by riot police during the protests that gripped the country in June.

But an Istanbul court ruled on Thursday that such items could be classified as weapons in a case against 23 people who joined the action against government plans to build on the city's Gezi park.

It said that the suspects had the clear intention of invading the park, clashing with police and destroying public property.

"They had not gone to the Gezi Park to swim, since there is no swimming pool there," newspapers quoted the court ruling as saying.

An estimated 2.5 million people took to the streets over three weeks of protests, which left six people dead and 8 000 people injured in the biggest challenge yet to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule.

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