Court orders Interior Ministry to pay over 1 million liras to man who lost eye during Gezi protests

Court orders Interior Ministry to pay over 1 million liras to man who lost eye during Gezi protests

İsmail Saymaz – ISTANBUL

An Istanbul court has ordered the Interior Ministry to pay over 1 million Turkish Liras in compensation to an academic who lost an eye during a police crackdown on the Gezi protests in 2013. 

Burak Ünveren, a lecturer at Yıldız Technical University, his one eye due to a tear gas canister that was fired by police during a protest in Istanbul.

The Istanbul 4th Administrative Court ruled that police have the right to intervene in protests if necessary but must not use excessive force. It also stated that tear gas must always be used at medium range, rather than close range.

“Tear gas canisters should be aimed into the air from a certain angle, as there is a possibility of hitting a person and causing an injury,” the court stated, adding that the ruling was informed by Ünveren’s forensic report.

“It is clear that the intervention crossed the line in injuring Ünveren, who was not even participating in this protest. So there is a necessity to pay compensation for the loss caused by the targeting of a tear gas canister directly into the face,” the ruling stated.

The court ordered the Interior ministry to pay Ünveren 555,197 liras in material damages and 500,000 liras in moral damages, stating that the incident incurred a 37 percent loss in Ünveren’s earnings.

Ünveren’s lawyer Ayhan Erdoğan said they would object to the ruling.

“It is clear that the administration is at fault. The compensation ordered is not enough considering that my client lost one of his eyes,” he said.

On July 23, an Ankara court fined the Interior Ministry over the case of a man who also lost an eye during the Gezi protests in 2013 in the Turkish capital.

Muharrem Dalsüren, who was working as cleaning worker in Ankara’s Çankaya Municipality, was also hit by a tear gas canister shot by a police officer during the Gezi protests on the city’s Sakarya Street on June 3, 2013.

The Ankara court ruled that Dalsüren was partly at fault, saying he had acted “recklessly” at the time of the incident as he was “staying in an unsafe area, endangering his personal safety.”

However, the court still ruled that the Interior Ministry was mostly at fault, ordering it to pay 122,000 liras in compensation after police “used tear gas canisters in a way that could hit demonstrators in the head.”