Court acquits one, sentences three officers for murder by pepper spray
YALOVAA Turkish court has acquitted a police officer and sentenced three others to jail for a year and eight months each in the murder case of a man who was killed after being hit with pepper spray in a fight in 2012, web portal Diken reported on June 23.
Officer Ercüment Küçükakça was acquitted, while İbrahim Baltacı, Tekin Ceyhan and Serhat Ayhan Yeni were each handed jail sentences after a court in the northwestern province of Yalova concluded its trial of the suspects charged with “causing death by negligence” in the death of Çayan Birben.
The suspects were not present during the hearing, in which the lawyer for the Birben family, Halis Yıldırım, claimed that the suspects sprayed the pepper gas on the victim by “using it as a weapon,” demanding that they be sentenced for “deliberate killing.”
But the defendants’ lawyer, Ali Çelik, said the witness’ court testimonies contradicted their initial testimony given to police after the incident. Stating that the testimonies changed after the death of Birben, which occurred three days later, Çelik demanded the acquittal of his clients.
The court decided to acquit Küçükakça and sentence the others to two years in jail, but later lowered the sentences to a year and eight months for each due to good conduct. The court also decided to suspend the sentences for three years.
“Only those at the top have justice in their hands. They would put it on a shelf, nothing else. They have hired a lawyer. If that lawyer’s own child died of pepper gas, would he say the same things? He couldn’t,” said Birben’s father, Ahmet Birben.
Then 31-year-old victim was subjected to pepper spray as he was trying to disperse a fight in Yalova on May 29, 2012. Birben reportedly begged the officers not to spray the gas because he had asthma, but the police refused to heed his requests, ultimately killing the man.