Turkish court dismisses demands to arrest suspect in Gezi Park protestor killing

Turkish court dismisses demands to arrest suspect in Gezi Park protestor killing

Turkish court dismisses demands to arrest suspect in Gezi Park protestor killing

Hatice Cömert holds a picture of his son outside of the court. AA Photo

A Hatay court has dismissed all demands of the arrests for the main suspect in the killing of the Turkish Gezi Park protestor Abdullah Cömert in its hearing on July 4.

The first hearing into the death of Cömert, one of the protesters who took to the streets in the southern province of Hatay in support of the demonstrations that started in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, died on June 3, 2013, was held in Hatay.

A police officer, A.K., is the only person charged with involvement in the death. The 29-year-old did not attend the hearing on July 4, and the judge refused the requests of the Cömert family for an arrest warrant.

The police officer had a doctor report to not attend the hearing and the lawyer for the family said this report was evidence for the suspicion of fleeing, thus it required an arrest warrant. The document was sent by fax.

The judges eventually rejected an arrest warrant, but decided to ask for the official document from the medical institution and to seek the medical situation of the accused. The next hearing for the case will be held Sept. 15.

Cömert’s family was present at the hearing, carrying photographs of the 22-year-old.

Mother Hatice Cömert said: “My son was on the streets for peace, for his people, for freedom. He did not have stones or sticks; he had the flag, the photograph of Atatürk. He did not harm anyone, he did not steal anything and they shot him dead.”

The case was only able to be opened after the family filed a second complaint to Hatay Prosecutor’s Office after purported footage of a vehicle shooting a gas canister at him was released by a television station in February, eight months after his death.

TV station Ulusal Kanal claimed the footage clearly showed a police vehicle shooting a tear gas canister at Cömert. The family said in its complaint that the new footage showed that, despite the protesters not behaving in a violent manner, the police had used excessive force by shooting at peacefully gathered protesters with tear gas. The complaint demanded the prosecution and arrest of the officials who were in the vehicle from which Cömert was allegedly shot.

“Cömert’s death was caused by brain trauma and skull injuries caused by a tear gas canister hit to the head,” a forensic report stated in October 2013.

The suspect police officer, A.K., denied having targeted Cömert, claiming he fired tear gas in a “controlled manner,” but a key witness told the court that the vehicle from which the tear gas was fired was no more than 30 meters from the protesters.

Abdullah’s elder brother, Zafer Cömert, had harsher words.

“The police are the terrorists in my eyes. The police who shot my brother, who shot Ethem [Sarısülük] are out there walking freely. The police who shot Berkin [Elvan] was not found,” he said. “I told the prosecutor that the prime minister is the motivator and the prosecutor said he could not document this claim. They are even afraid to document my statements.”

The Gezi Park protests, which started on May 27 after the police cracked down on peaceful protesters rallying against the unearthing of trees in Istanbul’s last downtown park, spread to almost all of Turkey’s provinces.

Eight protesters and two police officers were killed during the protests.