An Istanbul court has accepted the request of a Turkish police officer’s testimony that he intervened in the Gezi Park protests because he was in danger of being harmed, T24 news portal reported on Tuesday.
The Istanbul 30th Heavy Penal Court is to hear officer Mevlut Saldogan, who allegedly killed Ali Ismail Korkmaz in Eskisehir on July 10, 2013, during anti-government protests.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the protests as a coup attempt at the time.
Facing up to 13 years in jail for beating the 19-year-old student to death, Saldogan was given a reduced sentence of 10 years and 10 months in prison in January 2015 and was released as part of a government decree issued in 2016.
Speaking to Hikmet Adal from Bianet news portal, Korkmaz’s lawyer and brother Gurkan Korkmaz on Tuesday described the court’s decision to hear Saldogan as “a situation that is far from being just, lawful or ethical.”
On the fourth hearing of the Gezi trial on Tuesday, the court also ruled that the arrest of prominent Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, the only one among 16 suspects of the case who is still behind bars, shall continue.
Arrested on charges of attempting to change the Constitutional order and to overthrow the government, in November 2017, 62-year-old Kavala faces an aggravated life sentence for allegedly having organized the Gezi Park protests in 2013.
The demonstrations triggered by Erdogan’s governing AK Party (AKP) to raze Istanbul’s central Gezi Park to build a shopping mall, rapidly spread to other cities over what critics described as the president’s increasingly authoritarian rule in 2013.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) announced its ruling on the individual application of Kavala earlier in December, stating that there is a “lack of reasonable suspicion that the applicant had committed an offense.”
The Strasbourg-based court stressed that Turkey must now “take every measure to put an end to the applicant’s detention and to secure his immediate release.”
The Turkish court, which has adjourned the next hearing to January 28, 2020, is expected to abide by the verdict of the ECHR.