Case on Nigerian refugee Festus Okey murdered at Istanbul police station reopened after 11 years
The case on the murder of Nigerian refugee Festus Okey at Istanbul’s Beyoğlu police station in 2017 has been reopened after 11 years, with activists and rights groups vowing to keep following the case.
The move came after the Court of Cassation dismissed a ruling rejecting an involvement request filed by Festus Okey’s elder brother and ruled that a decision can be reconsidered after his biological bond to Okey is verified with a DNA test.
Following the Court of Cassation’s conclusion, the Istanbul 21st High Criminal Court had set the date of the first hearing of the retrial as Dec. 12.
The lawyer of Okey’s elder brother Tochukwu Gameliah Ogu and police officer Cengiz Yıldız, who is standing charges for killing Okey in August 2007, were at the hearing.
The court on Dec. 12 adjourned the hearing to a later date, saying that an official letter will be sent to Nigeria and South Africa for an identity verification of Ogu through a DNA test.
“The case of Festus Okey is one that has damaged the public’s confidence in the justice system in Turkey. And this [murder] was carried out by a police in Beyoğlu. It is very important that the confidence in the justice system is restored,” the lawyer, Alptekin Ocak, told crowds waiting outside the courthouse after the hearing.
Okey was a Nigerian asylum seeker living in Istanbul with dreams of becoming a successful football player. He had been detained on Aug. 20, 2007 for not carrying identification and was brought to the Beyoğlu police station. He was fatally shot by Yıldız after his interrogation.
In 2011, an Istanbul court sentenced Cengiz to four years and two months in jail over involuntary manslaughter. Cengiz, however, was never imprisoned. The decision was appealed.
After years of efforts, Okey’s lawyers had managed to reach his elder brother Ogu, who lives in Nigeria. Ogu’s request to join the criminal proceedings had been rejected by the local court, saying it did not consider the DNA report as a sufficient document to prove their family relationship.