by Hayrettin Bektaş - Emir Somer
Mar 11, 2015 12:00 am
Security camera footage obtained by a prosecutor's office looking into the alleged attack on a young woman and her baby by Gezi Park protestors verified her account of the harassment disputed by Gezi Park supporters and the Gülen Movement-affiliated media.
Zehra Develioğlu was walking on the sidewalk with her six-month-old baby when a group of up to 30 people among Gezi Park protestors surrounded the headscarf-wearing woman at Kabataş pier in Istanbul two years ago. The incident, at the height of the notorious Gezi Park protests, drew outrage while supporters of the protests claimed the victim was lying.
A criminal investigation into the incident revealed verbal and physical harassment of Develioğlu took place in 52 seconds and the security camera's angle was blocked during this period. Footage from other security cameras in the area mysteriously disappeared after the incident, though media reports point to the involvement of a company linked to the Gülen Movement. Sürat Teknoloji was in charge of the installation and recording of the security camera system, but only one camera was working out of the 11 cameras overlooking the area. Others were either out of order or under maintenance, according to police officers investigating the incident. Like the security camera company, the head of the police team investigating the incident is reportedly tied to the Gülen Movement. Ertan Erçıktı requested the retrieval of footage only one month after the launch of the probe and found no evidence of the attack. Erçıktı is currently in prison for a separate case.
The Develioğlu family personally investigated how the footage disappeared. Her father-in-law said that the only existing footage was the one from the security camera of a ferry company and part of the footage where the attack was recorded was edited out. "Still, it is clear that she is surrounded by a crowd from the remaining footage," he said. Develioğlu said the footage was kept safe by the prosecutor's office but implied that some people with access to the file distributed the edited-out footage to Gülen Movement-affiliated media "to prove that the attack did not happen."
Eighteen minutes of footage that the alleged victim's father-in-law mentioned shows the group stands near the woman and the infant for 52 seconds, but booths and a bus stop in the area block the view of the camera, so it is not known what happened during that period. The crowd later leaves. Police sources said that when the victim's account is taken into consideration while watching the video, it is clear that harassment took place in the unseen spot.
Several media outlets had claimed that although there was a crowd of protesters in the area at the time of the incident they did not stop to harass the woman contrary to the alleged victim's account.