New case opened into 87 suspects for protests on Gezi Park’s first anniversary in Ankara

New case opened into 87 suspects for protests on Gezi Park’s first anniversary in Ankara

Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARA
New case opened into 87 suspects for protests on Gezi Park’s first anniversary in Ankara

Holding carnations, banners and pictures of the people that lost their lives in the Gezi Park protests, demonstrators chant slogans to mark the second anniversary of the start of 2013 nationwide anti-government protests in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, May 30, 2015. AP Photo

Prosecutors have opened a case into 87 people, including four lawyers, for their participation in an allegedly illegal demonstration on the first anniversary of the Gezi protests in Ankara. 

A group of people, consisting of various civil society organizations, student groups and members of political parties, wanted to make a press announcement in Ankara’s central neighborhood of Kızılay on the first anniversary of the nationwide anti-government Gezi protests, on May 31, 2014. Police, however, did not permit the announcement, leading to clashes between the group and the police. 

According to the indictment prepared, which was accepted by Ankara’s 40th Criminal Court of First Instance on May 27, a total of 87 people will stand trial on charges of “opposing the law on meetings and demonstrations,” “causing damage to public property,” “ignoring the security chief’s demand for dispersal” and “resisting to prevent one from doing his duty.” 

“A section of the protestors, who looked like they were going to war rather than a protest, participated in the demonstrations with safety helmets, slingshots, stones and fireworks,” read a part of the statement, which added that some of the protestors had joined the protests with backpacks full of offensive and defensive objects to sabotage the rally. 

The police warned the group “several times” to disperse, but demonstrators did not disperse and closed a road to traffic flow while chanting the slogans “The murderous police will pay [for its actions] and “Ethem’s killer is the AKP’s [the ruling Justice and Development Party] police,” the indictment read. 

New case opened into 87 suspects for protests on Gezi Park’s first anniversary in Ankara

DHA Photo

Protester Ethem Sarısülük, 26, was shot point-blank on June 1 by police officer Ahmet Şahbaz, ultimately succumbing to his injuries on June 14, 2013. Şahbaz was sentenced to just seven years in prison for the killing.

The indictment adds that police “intervened” against the group after protesters “attacked” the police with “hurtful objects,” while also not listening to the “many warnings” for them to disperse. The indictment also alleged that the protesters caused damage to public properties such as pedestrian ways, bus stops, advertising panels, which were the property of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, as well as also surveillance cameras and electricity poles. 

“It has been concluded that it was within the duty of the police to swiftly capture suspects” that had turned Ankara’s city center into an area of clashes and thus caused damage to the surroundings, the indictment alleged. 

Lawyers İlyas Danyeli, Engin Gökoğlu, Barkın Timtik and Anıl Arkman Akkuş, as well as the brothers of the murdered Sarısülük, Cem and İkrar Sarısülük, are among the 87 suspects. 

Şahbaz was sentenced to seven years and nine months in prison in the subsequent trial, though the prosecutor in the case had demanded a far heavier sentence of between 26 and 33 years in prison. The ruling was eventually overturned by the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals, which argued the officer should be charged with “premeditated murder,” instead of “possible premeditated murder” in light of the evidence presented to the court.