Interior Ministry to pay compensation to Turkish journalist injured by police TOMA
İsmail Saymaz – ISTANBUL
CİHAN photoThe Turkish Interior Ministry will pay compensation to a journalist who was wounded by a police water cannon during protests which erupted in Istanbul in 2014 after Turkey’s worst mining disaster which left 301 miners dead.
The ministry will pay for damages for mental anguish worth 5,000 Turkish Liras to daily Birgün journalist Pembegül Gökçek, 49, who was hit by pressurized water more than once.
Gökçek was photographing the people protesting the deaths of the miners in the coal mine in the Aegean district of Soma in 2014 when she was hit by pressurized water from a water cannon vehicle, known as a TOMA, used by the police to disperse the protesters.
The TOMA again sprayed the journalist as she was trying to get up and injured her.
Gökçek was taken to hospital and had to undergo surgery, after which she was given an incapacity report for 20 days.
Gökçek’s lawyer, Ruşen Ali Nergiz, applied to the prosecutor’s office and said his client was intentionally targeted while she was reporting, as he presented four photos taken during the incident.
Hakan Y. was the police officer operating the TOMA, the investigation revealed.
“Our superiors wanted us to spray water towards the crowd in order to disperse them. I sprayed water upon the orders,” Hakan Y. said in his testimony.
A complaint was filed against the police officer on charges of deliberately injuring Gökçek and her lawyer applied to the Istanbul 8th Administrative Court for compensation.
The TOMA operator didn’t act with caution when he could have intervened in the protesters in a moderate way, the court ruled.
The court also stated the TOMA was used many times without taking the lives of the protesters into account.