Court arrests police officer in killing of Gezi protester Sarısülük, upon prosecutor’s request
ANKARA - Doğan News Agency
Protesters wear masks with Sarısülük's picture during the hearing at the Ankara courthouse, July 7. AA PhotoThe police officer who has been charged with killing Gezi protester Ethem Sarısülük during last year’s Gezi protests in Ankara has been arrested, in a critical turning point in the trial.
During a hearing at an Ankara court on July 7, the prosecutor requested the arrest of the officer, Ahmet Şahbaz, who shot 26-year-old Sarısülük, dismissing the defense’s argument that he had fired his gun “in self-defense.” The prosecutor, however, said there was “probable intention” and demanded Şahbaz be charged with first degree murder and jailed for 33 years.
Judges decided for the arrest of police officer Şahbaz and postponed the hearing to Sept. 3, 2014. There was a fracas in the court room at the end of the hearing and the gendarmerie intervened on the crowd.
Up to now, the trial had been slammed by activists and rights groups as another example of police officers’ impunity, following the security forces’ harsh crackdowns on protests throughout last summer.
The court had rejected repeated demands from the victim’s lawyers to arrest the suspect officer, while the indictment controversially charged him for “killing a person by unintentionally exceeding the limits of self-defense.”
In the previous hearing, a video was played to the court, in which a person was heard saying, “I pulled out [my gun] and fired off three shots,” after returning to police lines in the wake of the shooting. The judges then questioned whether the person in the footage was Şahbaz, or not. Yesterday, the prosecutor ruled it was Şahbaz who was in the video.
In the hearing, Şahbaz claimed he was forced to defend himself in targeting Sarısülük because protesters were throwing stones, his lawyer said, asking the court to dismiss the charges.
Şahbaz, who had provoked the anger of Sarısülük’s family after failing to attend previous hearings, was present at the court as the prosecutor made his plea.
Sarısülük was shot during protests in Ankara on June 1, 2013, and died after being hospitalized for more than two weeks, becoming the third protester who died at the hands of police during the protests.