Police launch aid campaign for officer convicted of murdering Gezi protester
Mesut Hasan Benli ANKARA
Ethem Sarısülük.An online campaign has been launched for the police officer convicted of shooting dead a protester during the Gezi demonstrations in Ankara last year to show support for the man’s family, but also the officer himself.
Ahmet Şahbaz was sentenced to seven years and nine months in jail for shooting dead Ethem Sarısülük, 26, at point-blank range even though the prosecutor had demanded a far heavier sentence of between 26 and 33 years in prison.
The ruling was eventually overturned early in December by the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals, which argued the officer should be charged with “premeditated murder,” not “possible premeditated murder” based on the evidence acknowledged by the court.
The campaign was launched by officers in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa – where Şahbaz was reassigned before the conclusion of the trial – on the Facebook page titled “Ahmet Şahbaz is the pride of the police.”
“The family of the personnel, which has suffered financially and psychologically during the trial, has appealed to us for help,” a statement on the group’s page said asking all the personnel to make a small donation from their January wage.
Şahbaz, who claimed legitimate defense during the case, had long be tried without arrest, drawing strong reactions and concerns that the trial will reinforce the sense of impunity with which many police act.