SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-A Turkish policeman has been jailed for seven years and nine months after being convicted of shooting dead a protester during 2013 anti-government protests, a verdict denounced as lenient by relatives of the victim.
With several similar cases pending, the trial of Ahmet Sahbaz was seen as a crucial test of the authorities’ willingness to prosecute police brutality under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On Wednesday, the court found Sahbaz guilty of killing 26-year-old Ethem Sarisuluk in Ankara last year at the start of three weeks of clashes between police and protesters that convulsed the country.
The verdict sparked tumultuous scenes in the courtroom, with supporters of the victim shouting “murderer state” and slamming the judge for being too lenient.
“There is nothing more to say. The justice system bolstered the murder. This proves it is legitimate to kill people on the street,” Sarisuluk’s brother Mustafa told the AFP news agency.
“The murderer will be among us five years later,” he said, anticipating an early release for Sahbaz. He said that the family would appeal the verdict.
The victims’ supporters initially applauded the verdict when the court announced a life sentence for murder.
However, as is customary under Turkish law, Sahbaz received reductions to his sentence due to attenuating circumstances, as the court agreed he was provoked by the protesters.
Sarisuluk’s supporters showed their derision by throwing bottles across the courtroom.
Kerem Altiparmak, professor of law at Ankara University, slammed the verdict saying it was “a method of impunity the same as an acquittal”.