Policeman who sprayed tear gas to ‘woman in red’ faces three years in jail

Policeman who sprayed tear gas to ‘woman in red’ faces three years in jail

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Policeman who sprayed tear gas to ‘woman in red’ faces three years in jail

This picture taken by Reuters' photo journalist Osman Orsal when the demonstrations were still local with only a handful of protesters became a symbol of the Gezi movement. REUTERS photo

A Turkish police officer who sprayed pepper gas directly into the face of several protesters, including a woman in a red dress in what became one of the most iconic photos from last summer’s Gezi resistance, will face three years in prison, Doğan news agency reported Jan. 15. 

Istanbul Public Prosecutor Adnan Çimen demanded up to three years in prison for F.Z., a 23-year-old police officer, who used tear gas against a group of peaceful protesters in Gezi Park on May 28, 2013, on charges that he abused his authority.

The prosecutor also demanded that F.Z. be dismissed from the profession in the indictment. 

According to the indictment approved by the court on Jan. 9, F.Z. sprayed tear gas at a group of protesters, including Ceyda Sungur, who became known as the “woman in red” after the incident, without first issuing any warning. 

The officer violated the regulations on police actions during mass incidents and the regulation on the use of tear gas, said the indictment. The prosecutor also said F.Z. was closer than one meter to Sungur and that he targeted her face in using the chemical agent without warning. He continued to spray the gas after she turned her face to protect herself, said the indictment. 

F.Z. used tear gas in the same way on others at the scene and also kicked some other protesters, the indictment said, noting that Sungur was not involved in any violent action before and after the police’s use of tear gas. 

The Gezi Park, or June, Resistance in Turkey began at the end of May against a government redevelopment plan. The attempt to save the last green area in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square evolved into the country’s largest turmoil in recent history, with prolonged protests across the country, resulting in the deaths of seven protesters and one police officer. Thousands of people were also injured as a result of sustained police brutality.