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‘Woman in Red’ sees her attacker indicted

16 January 2014

The Turkish police officer who sprayed pepper gas directly into the face of several protesters, including a woman in a red dress in what became one of the most iconic photos from last summer’s Gezi resistance, will face three years in prison, Dogan news agency reported on 15th January.

Istanbul Public Prosecutor Adnan Cimen demanded up to three years in prison for the 23-year-old police officer, who used tear gas against a group of peaceful protesters in Gezi Park on 28th May, 2013, on charges that he abused his authority.

In his indictment, the prosecutor also demanded that the police officer be dismissed from the police force.

According to the indictment approved by the court on 9th January, the young police officer, without issuing any warning, sprayed tear gas at a group of protesters, including Ceyda Sungur, who became known as the “woman in red” after the incident.

The officer violated the regulations on police actions during mass incidents and the regulation on the use of tear gas, said the indictment. The prosecutor also said that he was closer than one meter to Sungur and that he targeted her face in using the chemical agent without warning. He continued to spray the gas after she turned her face to protect herself, said the indictment.

The same police officer used tear gas in the same way on others at the scene and also kicked some other protesters, the indictment said, noting that Sungur was not involved in any violent action before and after the police’s use of tear gas.

Gezi Park became the focus of resistance in Turkey at the end of May when a peaceful demonstration against a government plan to redevelop the park was met with heavy handed police action.

The protests spread across Turkey, in part against police overreaction and brutality, which resulted in the deaths of seven protesters and one police officer. In addition, thousands of people were injured as a result of continued violent police action against demonstrators.

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