How Turkey Deals with Police Violence
Developments in two cases regarding police violence show that it is still difficult to pursue perpetrators. In the death of Nigerian refugee Okey, the trial is dragging on. In the death of Ete, the police officer has received a reduced sentence.
Two recent developments show that it is still difficult to combat police violence in Turkey.
One regards the case of Festus (Fastos) Okey, a young Nigerian refugee who was taken into police custody in Beyoğlu, central Istanbul, on 20 August 2007. He was taken to the Taksim police station to give a statement, and he died from a shot from the gun of police officer Cengiz Yıldız.
The police claims that Okey was shot during a scuffle. However, there are no camera recordings of a scuffle in the corridors, as there are only cameras in the cells. Okey’s shirt, which would have given an idea about how far away the gun was from him when he was shot, disappeared between the police station and the hospital he was taken to.
At the latest hearing in the case at the Beyoğlu Heavy Penal Court, the trial was postponed to 9 July 2009, because Okey’s identity has still not been confirmed.
Gun finally secured
Lawyer Taylan Tanay of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (ÇHD) said that a positive outcome of the last hearing was that, following an expert report, the gun in question was taken from police officer Yıldız. Tanay says it should have been secured long ago.
At a hearing in December 2008, the lawyer for the police officer said that Okey had come to the country with a fake visa and had used the name Festus Okey later. He insinuated that he was a terrorist.
The court then ordered more information on Okey, something Taylan found unnecessary. He argued that the documents handed over by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were sufficient and that a further investigation was just drawing out the trial time.
Taylan added that all applications for third-party plaintiffs to join the case have been rejected so far.
Short sentence for police violence
The second case concerns the death of Feyzullah Ete, a young man who was killed after a police officer kicked him in the chest in November 2007 in Istanbul’s district of Avcılar.
Eye witnesses say that Ete was sitting in a park when an officer from a plain clothes police team kicked him.
The Bakırköy 10th Heavy Penal Court had initially sentenced police officer Ali Mutlu to 12 years imprisonment for allowing injuries that led to death, but reduced it to 5 years for good behaviour and for unfair provocation by the deceased man.
Considering the time that Mutlu previously spent in detention, this means that the police officer will leave prison in two years time. (EZÖ/AG)
İstanbul - Bıa news centre
13 April 2009, Monday