Turkish police charge four over coronavirus house party


ISTANBUL, MAR 31 –  Turkish police charged four people, including the organisers and a DJ, after a weekend coronavirus house party in Istanbul where some guests dressed up as doctors, local officials said.The party, thrown at a villa in the Buyukcekmece district on Saturday night, was shared live on social media but received criticism for ignoring social distancing pleas.“These idiots have organised a home party somewhere in Istanbul” one Twitter user posted, adding that “those idiots!!!” would make it difficult to stop the spread of the virus.

Turkey’s interior ministry has closed down bars and nightclubs as part of the efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police watched the social media broadcast then initally detained 11 people, including the organisers and DJ.

Four were charged with “disobeying the regulations on infectious diseases”, the Istanbul governor’s office said in a statement late Sunday.

The authorities were working to identify other participants, it added.

In the video footage posted online, some of those partying could be seen dressed up as emergency doctors with gloves and masks.

“I drank a lot of alcohol. Everyone was dancing with the music. I regret holding such a party at a time of coronavirus,” one of the organisers, named as M.S., told police in his testimony.

Elif K., who broadcast the party live on social media, said around 80 people attended the event. “They were drinking and dancing. I later called a taxi and left.”

The DHA said police released seven people after questioning, but the other four were sent to court.

Turkey has so far officially recorded 10,827 cases of the new coronavirus while 168 people have died.

Authorities have taken a series of measures to try to slow the spread of the virus, from suspending international flights to shutting schools.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks to stay at home and adapt themselves to “voluntary quarantine” conditions.