Hurriyet Daily News: Court halts prosecution of officer who shot Gezi protester due to lack of permission


Ethem Sarısülük, 26, died from his wounds on June 14 after being shot in the head during a protest in Ankara on June 1. Hürriyet photo

An Ankara court has stopped the prosecution process regarding the police officer who shot and killed Ethem Sarısülük during a Gezi Park protest because it does not have permission to try the officer.

The Sixth Ankara Criminal Court decided to send the investigation files regarding Sarısülük’s alleged shooter, identified as A.Ş., to the prosecutor’s office for the completion of “the necessary steps.”

The investigation into A.Ş. was opened without being granted “permission to prosecute” the suspected killer, the court ruling said.

Upon the ruling, the prosecutors will have to send the files to the provincial administration board, which is under the authority of the Ankara Governor’s Office, to ask for an official permission to press charges against the police officer. If the board’s decision is negative, Sarısülük’s case will be closed without A.Ş. going to trial. Sarısülük’s family will then have the right to file an appeal to the administrative court as a last resort.

Sarısülük, 26, died from his wounds on June 14 after being shot in the head during a protest in Ankara on June 1.

A.Ş. was granted police protection after he reportedly received death threats following a court’s decision to try him without arrest.

Lawyer: We will apply to the Constitutional court or ECHR

The lawyer representing Sarısülük’s family, Kazım Bayraktar, told Hürriyet that their hopes for a fair trial had faded. Bayraktar said they would either file an individual complaint to the Constitutional Court or go directly to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the grounds that their right to a fair trial had been violated.

“For a permission to be asked, the crime in question had to be related with the duty. However, that a policeman shoots someone dead after kicking him is not connected with his duty. If there were an order to shoot, this could be disputed. But there was no order to open fire,” Bayraktar said, stressing that the court’s decision was unlawful.

“The question is that [the policeman that killed Sarısülük] has exceeded his authority. This is a crime that he committed while on duty but not within the limits of his duty.”

Bayraktar also emphasized that the administration, the government and the judiciary had tried to protect the suspect since the beginning of the case. “Now the ball is once again sent to the administration. The provincial administration board is bound to the Governor’s Office, hence to the political authority. If it doesn’t give permission to press charges, we will appeal to the administrative court. But it will be a process that will take time,” Bayraktar said.

“The collaboration between the police, the political authority and the judiciary is clearly revealed. We will apply to the European Court of Human Rights. We may also try the Constitutional Court but we haven’t decided yet.”

The European Union and many human rights organizations had criticized Turkey over police impunity.

17 July 2013