Istanbul policemen acquitted over burning Gezi tents
Ayşegül Usta ISTANBUL
Seven municipal police officers have been acquitted of “misconduct” and “intentionally starting a fire” charges, due to a lack of evidence proving they raided and burned down protesters’ tents during the Gezi Park protests in 2013.Seven municipal police officers have been acquitted after being charged with “misconduct” and “intentionally starting a fire,” due to a lack of evidence proving that they raided and burned down protesters’ tents during the Gezi Park protests in summer 2013.
The Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation after police officers allegedly raided and burned down protestors’ tents, sparking the Gezi protests that subsequently spread across the country. Prosecutors demanded that seven officers be sentenced to between 18 months and six years in prison on charges of “misconduct” and “intentionally starting a fire.”
Protesters had occupied the park and put up tents in order to protect trees from being cut down in Istanbul’s central Gezi Park on May 30, 2013. According to the indictment, the seven police officers were on the scene during the protests and allegedly burned down some of the tents, causing fear and panic among the public.
One of the suspects, identified by the initials A. T. rejected the allegations and denied that they set the tents alight. “I do not know what caused the fire,” he said, adding they were there only to help clear the park for the excavation process.
Another suspect police officer, identified as M.S., said they arrived on the scene right after the police raid and began to gather the tents. He also claimed that one of the police officers responsible for the operation told him that the situation was getting out of control and he wanted the remaining tents in the park burned down. However, M.S. stressed that he did not burn any of the tents and did not know who was responsible.
Meanwhile, a former provincial police chief assistant, identified as R. E., is set to be tried on charges of “instigation” and “misconduct.” The trial will begin within the next few days.