Gezi Park police officer sentenced to plant trees

Published 10.06.2015 23:33

In a verdict sure to entertain the crowd opposing what they called the destruction of trees in Istanbul's Gezi Park, a court sentenced a policeman intervening in protests to plant 600 trees.

A court in Istanbul sentenced Fatih Z. to 20 months in prison and ordered him to plant 600 trees and take care of them for six months for teargasing a protester.

Ceyda Sungur, the protester in question, became a symbol of sometimes excessive use of force acknowledged by police during the protest, when a photo showing the woman dressed in red and clinging to her handbag as a policeman empties a canister of tear gas on her was splashed across newspapers. Sungur had filed a complaint after the incident in May 2013 and claimed another Gezi Park protester died of cancer after he was exposed to tear gas at a very close distance.

The policeman's lawyer told the court that Fatih Z. was "simply carrying out the orders of his superiors" when he teargased Sungur.

The court decided that the policeman overstepped his authority and inflicted "injury" on Sungur. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison both for the incident and for peppering others near Sungur with tear gas without warning and kicking a protester. His sentence was postponed for five years under judicial control, which means he may be sent to prison if he commits a crime.

When Sungur joined the protests, the opposition to the redevelopment of Gezi Park was largely environmentalist before it descended into violent riots pitting police against Molotov-cocktail wielding crowds.

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