Trial for Gezi victim’s slaying postponed before beginning
Ethem Sarısülük, 26, was killed during a confrontation with police in Ankara’s Güvenpark during the initial days of the Gezi protests on June 1 and fell into coma. His brain death was confirmed in mid-June. AA photoThe first hearing into a police officer’s killing of Gezi protester Ethem Sarısülük was postponed before it even began this morning after opposing parties nearly came to blows when the presiding judge closed the hearing to the public.
After the chief of Ankara’s Sixth Court of Serious Crimes, Afak İlliez, announced that he was closing the courtroom to the public, the family of Sarısülük allegedly remonstrated with his alleged killer, A.Ş., Anadolu Agency reported.
Police officers in the courthouse removed A.Ş. from the courtroom, while their lawyers tried to calm down the Sarısülük family, Anadolu said. A.Ş. had a wig and thick-frame eyeglasses, the agency said, noting that the wig fell down during the skirmish.
İlliez ultimately decided to postpone the hearing until Oct. 28 after both the prosecutor and the lawyers for the complainants stated that it would not be possible to hold the hearing under the chaotic conditions.
A.Ş. is accused of “killing a person by unintentionally exceeding the limits of self-defense due to excusable circumstances.”
Sarısülük, 26, was killed during a confrontation with police in Ankara’s Güvenpark during the initial days of the Gezi protests on June 1 and fell into coma. His brain death was confirmed in mid-June.
Sarısülük’s lawyer filed a demand for the arrest of A.Ş. in light of a report by Ankara University that suggested the officer did not shoot the protester in self-defense, asking that the offense be reclassified as “intentional homicide.”
The officer, however, was released pending trial and given police protection, causing significant public indignation.
Sarısülük is one of six people that anti-government protesters have declared a “martyr” in their struggle. Ahmet Atakan, 22, became the latest to die on Sept. 10, following on the path of Abdullah Cömert, 22, Ali İsmail Korkmaz, 19, Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, 20, and Medeni Yıldırım, 18. Police officer Mustafa Sarı also died after falling from a bridge while pursuing fleeing protesters in Adana.
The Gezi Park protests started May 27 when a group of activists from Taksim Solidarity, a civil group that had voiced criticism of redevelopment plans for Taksim Square, gathered in Istanbul’s Gezi Park after bulldozers came to the area to cut down trees in the park.
On May 31 police launched a violent dawn operation on occupying protesters in Gezi and dispersed a few hundred protesters from the park with tear gas and water cannon while burning their tents. The protests then spread across Turkey and continued for nearly two months.
Nearly 7,500 people have been injured, according to the Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB).