Internal Police Probe Clears Officer Who Shot and Killed Gezi Protester Ethem Sarisuluk

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Hurriyet Daily – The police officer who shot and killed Gezi protester Ethem Sarısülük during last year’s nationwide protests has been cleared of all responsibility after an internal investigation by the police.

The probe stated that the policeman, Ahmet Şahbaz, used his gun in self-defense, as he was being targeted with stones “big enough to kill someone,” while also describing the mass protests as a “coup attempt” to overthrow the government.

Şahbaz was sentenced to seven years and nine months in prison in the subsequent trial, though the prosecutor in the case had demanded a far heavier sentence of between 26 and 33 years in prison. The ruling was eventually overturned by the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals, which argued the officer should be charged with “premeditated murder,” instead of “possible premeditated murder” in light of the evidence presented to the court.

Video of police shooting and killing Ethem Sarısülük during protest in Ankara, Turkey June 1.

But police inspectors ruled out any premeditation and hailed Şahbaz for his behavior, stating that “no fault” could be attributed to him.

“It was ruled unanimously that no sanction is needed against police officer Ahmet Şahbaz, as it was understood that no fault can be attributed to him as he used his weapon within the limits of self-defense in order to avert a lynching attempt by protesters staging an illegal demonstration,” the report said.

The report admitted that Şahbaz carried out his duty under strict orders from his superiors. The Gezi protests were also described as “nationwide demonstrations aiming to topple the government and seriously disrupt public order and peace.”

Şahbaz’s lawyer Uğur Ceyhan welcomed the report, assuring that it was thoroughly prepared after the analysis of video footage and testimonies.

The violent crackdown by police on protesters during the protests that erupted over the redevelopment plans of Istanbul’s Gezi Park had triggered an international outcry. But police action was hailed by then-prime minister, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who described it as “heroic.”

Şahbaz shot Sarısülük as police was moving in on protesters in Ankara’s central Kızılay Square on June 1, 2013. Sarısülük died after being hospitalized for more than two weeks, becoming the third protester to be killed at the hands of police during the protests.

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Jennifer Baker is the founder and editor of Revolution News revnewsmedia@gmail.com