Nigerian’s death due to racism, says his brother
ISTANBUL - RadikalThe death of Festus Okey, a Nigerian refugee who was fatally wounded at a police station and died soon thereafter in Istanbul in 2007, was interpreted in his home country as racism, according to Okey’s brother Tochukwu Ogu.
“Even if [the police officer who caused Okey’s death] was sentenced to life imprisonment, that will not bring my brother back,” Ogu said.
Okey’s father was struck with paralysis after receiving news of his son’s death and could no longer venture outside his home, Ogu said.
“My mother is also very ill. When I told her the police officer who killed Festus was sentenced to four years and two months, she was neither happy nor sad. It only resurfaced her memories,” he said.
Ogu said he travelled to South Africa in 2000 to find work but then told his brother not to follow suit, as there was no work to be found. Okey first went to Iran and then to Turkey.
“They killed Festus because of his skin color. So, there is racism in Turkey,” Ogu said.
Okey was happy to be in Turkey and his sole concern was to find a way to legalize his residence, Ogu said. “He was planning to come back at the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, new footage has emerged from Istanbul’s Beyoğlu Police Headquarters where Okey was shot. The footage shows him entering the building at 5:47 p.m. in the company of a non-uniformed police officer. Exactly 19 minutes later, two police officers can be seen carrying the critically wounded Okey out of the building.
Okey later died in Taksim Emergency Hospital, and officer Cengiz Yıldız was sentenced to 4 years and 2 months on the charge of involuntary manslaughter Dec. 13.
Prosecutor Mehmet Nuri Gür has objected to the court’s decision, demanding the charge be changed to “manslaughter through conscious negligence.” Yıldız’s sentence could be raised to 6 years and 6 months if the Supreme Court of Appeals accepts the prosecutor’s request.
Okey was detained in 2007 for not carrying identification and died from a wound caused by a police officer’s bullet.