Ali İsmail Korkmaz, a lively teenager at the age of 19. A university student. Socially aware and responsible young person. He was beaten to death during Turkey’s Occupy Gezi protests in Eskişehir by a team of policemen, shopkeepers and pro-government fanatics. The young man was one of the 14 people who were murdered by police or state related people during the protests, and the court case regarding him took a very rocky road as there have been several attempts to hide evidence, prevent court case, protect murderers, change the city where court proceedings would take place; as in many other state-related crime cases.
Two of the murderer policemen received 10 years prison sentence, while two other policemen were acquitted. Three civilians who were involved in the beating to death received 6 years prison sentence while another civilian received 3 years prison sentence and given that he has already been in prison for over a year he has been released from his sentence.
Turkish judiciary works in a complicated way. Most of the court cases involving murder and rape get punished with reduced prison sentences –if punished at all- if the suspects wear a suit and talk kindly during the processions. This was the reason why most of the murderers involved in this case received so little sentences.
The observers have reacted to this decision right after the verdict, on the grounds that this is not justice for killing a teenager for participating in a peaceful protest. Ali İsmail’s mother cried at the verdict shouting “down with your justice, down with people like these.” Mothers of other murdered children were also present at the court house. Upon this incident started some shouting in the court room and a policeman took out his gun.
In the aftermath of the verdict, observers were escorted outside where there was an abundance of riot police squads and water cannons ready in Kayseri. The angry crowd started protesting the court’s verdict, wanted to declare a press statement that this justice is only serving the murderers and not the victims. Police intervened with the press statement and attacked with tear gas, water cannons and batons.
During and after Gezi Park protests –back then prime minister- president Erdoğan had declared the police as heroes of an epic victory. Policemen’s defense speeches focused on how protesters were criminals that pushed Ali İsmail to his death and how they were only doing their job by preventing social protests. Protest laws in Turkey are still quite strict, not allowing any protest after it gets dark and no protest call that’s not approved by the local governor and police chief gets clearance.
Even though the prosecutor had initially asked for life sentence for the policemen, yet the previous defense of the policemen inviting the police chief, governor, minister of interior and prime minister Erdoğan as suspects to court case had put a pressure on the trial, changing its course. Bar head Kocasakal gave a statement about the trial saying “in rule of law, even if you are 100% sure that someone is guilty, you can not take up arms and beat someone to death; you take him to court and justice gets served.” However, when police in Turkey is asked why they suppress peaceful protests violently, they usually give the answer that they are following orders, or that they contribute to prevention of a military coup.