World Bulletin / News Desk
Mobile phone images of a judge and prosecutor asleep during the trial of a policeman accused of shooting a protester during the Gezi park riots has prompted the Supreme Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors to launch an investigation.
The images of the judge and prosecutor slumped asleep on their desks were printed in the Turkish national press and appeared on social media across Turkey on Tuesday.
The court is investigating the death of 26 year-old Ethem Sarisuluk, who was allegedly shot by riot policeman, Ahmet Sahbaz during the protests held in Ankara in support of Istanbul Gezi park incidents. At the same time as the photos were released on Tuesday and after concerns from the Sarısülük family and lawyers regarding the fairness of the trial, the panel of judges withdrew themselves from the case.
The judges were accused of being impartial after they let Sahbaz carry on working in Sanliurfa province and appearing in court via a video link with a wig and fake moustache.
Sarisuluk was shot on the first day of June this year near Guvenpark – a central park, the focus of clashes between the protesters and riot police in Ankara - and died in hospital 14 days later. A post mortem examination suggested that Sarisuluk was shot in the head by a 9 mm bullet. The encounter between police and protesters, during which Sarisuluk dies was captured by CCTV and media footage and appears to show the accused running from the scene holding a pistol.
A superior court – the Ankara Seventh High Criminal Court – will decide whether or not the recusal (legal term for withdrawal) of the judges is appropriate. If the recusal is rejected, the Ankara Sixth High Criminal Court will continue hearing the case.
The Supreme Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors has now asked for video footage of the hearing (if existed) from the case court and said it will launch an investigation into the prosecutor and the judge if it is necessary.
Pictures were made public almost simultaneously with a decision of the panel of judges appointed for the case decided to recuse from the case stating doubts had been cast over there being a fair trial at the court, after the Sarısülük family’s lawyers raised their concerns.
Sarisuluks' lawyers argue that the court has not been impartial because they let the accused to carry on working in Sanliurfa province and appearing on court screens with a wig and fake moustache to give statement.
26 year old victim Ethem Sarisuluk was shot by riot policeman Ahmet Sahbaz on the first day of last June near Guvenpark – a central park where clashes often occurred between the protesters and riot police in the Turkish capital and died in hospital 14 days later. A postmortem examination suggested that Sarisuluk was shot in the head by a 9 mm bullet. CCTV and media footages showed the encounter between the protesters, including the deceased, and the accused policeman Sahbaz who after the incident ran off the scene holding a pistol.
Gezi park incidents started in Istanbul over a central Istanbul park when a group of activists staged a sit-in in protest to alteration plans regarding the park on May 31.
Clashes between the protesters and police force had started in Istanbul and then in some other cities and lasted for about a four weeks.
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