Ankara, Sep 4 () - The police officer who shot and killed Gezi protester Ethem Sarısülük during the 2013 Gezi Park protests has been discharged from jail, even though he had been sentenced to seven years and nine months in prison.
The 6th Court of Serious Crimes in Ankara ordered on Sept. 3 the discharge of Ahmet Şahbaz, the police officer who shot Sarısülük in 2013.
Speaking to Hurriyet.com.tr, Şahbaz’s attorney, Uğur Ceyhan, said the decision was just, adding that the court had ruled for the release of Şahbaz as it had decided that all evidence had been collected.
Kazım Bayraktar, Sarısülük’s lawyer, said the decision would continue to encourage police violence and brutality against citizens.
Şahbaz was sentenced to seven years, nine months and 10 days in prison for shooting Sarısülük point blank, but 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.
The 1st Chamber of the Court of Appeals, who was looking into the appeal of the court rule sentencing Şahbaz, reversed the judgment by means of methods.
The 6th Court of Serious Crimes thus ruled for the discharge of Şahbaz, while also setting the date for court to Sept. 7.
The 6th Court of Serious Crimes also decided to transfer the case to the Aksaray Court of Serious Crimes due to security reasons, following a request by the officer’s lawyer.
The violent crackdown by police on protesters during the protests that erupted over the redevelopment plans of Istanbul’s Gezi Park 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 were 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.