Police officers cry foul for lineup in front of MP’s son
A police chief lines up police officers in front of a wall and makes them hold up numbers so that İstemi Kağan Türkoğlu (R) can identify the officer who argued with him.
Anger has risen amongst police, citizens and politicians against the son of a Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy who forced local police officers into a lineup in order to identify an officer who had allegedly insulted his friend.
The Security Forces’ Veterans and Martyr Families Foundation (EMŞAV) issued a press release July 28 to condemn the Hatay governor and the province’s police department for failing to support its officers.
“We were informed by parties involved in the incident and the press that Kaan Türkoğlu and his father’s counselor went to the police station as if conducting a raid there and humiliated, reviled and threatened officers Atilla and Emer,” the statement read.
The foundation also called on the governor and the chief of police in Hatay to resign for allowing the incident to occur without consequence.
Police officers have received support from community members via social networking websites. Two Facebook pages were created July 28 and ‘liked’ by nearly 10,000 people in a short span of time. On Twitter the hashtag “polis seeking justice” became popular and mustered support from users.
The incident which sparked debate occurred last week when Ömer Uzun, the head of AKP’s youth branch in Hatay, who also runs a cafeteria at a police station in the province’s Dörtyol district, had an argument with police officer Alper Atilla reports state.
In the heat of the argument, Uzun allegedly threatened Atilla and said he would “send him into exile” before ordering him to take off his uniform. Uzun then called his friend İstemi Kağan Türkoğlu, the son of AKP Hatay Deputy Bayram Türkoğlu, to the scene as the argument continued. Türkoğlu subsequently arrived at the scene and threatened the officers in question.
Deputy Police Inspector Murat Emer intervened and told Türkoğlu that he could “not talk that way to his officers.” Tensions rose after Emer’s intervention. The Dörtyol police chief called a number of policemen, including Emer, into his office where he had them lineup in front of a wall and hold up numbers so that Türkoğlu could identify the officer who had argued with him. After examining the policemen at length Türkoğlu identified Emer, reports said.
According to reports, Emer was removed from duty and reassigned to Hatay’s Kumlu district the following day so that “a proper investigation” could be conducted. Atilla, meanwhile, was reassigned to Hatay’s Altınözü district.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has voiced criticism of the incident.
“A son of a ruling party deputy lines up police officers like they were criminals. This is not an acceptable scene. They use tear gas against our deputies and it will have no consequences. A gentleman’s son has a small issue and all police officers are lined up. Such government acts are not acceptable, such an administration, such justice is not acceptable,” Kılıçdaroğlu said July 28 in his party’s caucus.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin commented on the incident after a citizen attending a fast-breaking dinner with him asked what the minister planned to do about the incident. “Look from a broad perspective, it will be solved. Let it not [amount to] more annoying situations,” he said.
Türkoğlu has defended himself by saying “he was beaten by the police and seeking his rightful [justice]. This was a part of a judicial process,” he said in an interview with Cihan News Agency.
“There were 23 riot police officers in the room. I identified the police officer who had beaten me. The identification was not held on my request, the prosecutor demanded it,” he said.
Former CHP deputy chair Gürsel Tekin criticized the incident as a judicial process in a statement released to the press. “While journalists and intellectuals are waiting to be tried in Silivri prison in a legal process being carried out for years, it is noteworthy that a legal process can be carried out in four hours for such a situation [as this],” the statement read.