Court rejects arresting policeman charged with killing 22-year-old protester

A Turkish court denied an arrest request for the police officer who is accused of killing 22-year-old Abdullah Cömert during the 2013 Gezi Park protests at a hearing of the trial on Friday.

Cömert died after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by police during the nationwide anti-government protests of summer 2013 in the city of Antakya in southern Turkey. Officer Ahmet Kuş is being tried by a court in the province of Balıkesir for security reasons, even though the incident took place in Antakya.

Police took strict security measures outside the courthouse, while Cömert’s mother and brother, as well as a number of lawyers who participated in the case as co-plaintiffs were present at the hearing.

The family is currently being represented by over 100 lawyers. Cömert’s elder brother Zafer Cömert could not attend the hearing as he is currently charged with being a member of a terrorist organization and spreading terrorism propaganda and is being tried by an Erzurum high criminal court.

In the previous hearing of the trial in April which lasted nine hours, the lawyers representing the Cömert family had demanded that Kuş be arrested, after the surveillance camera footage showing Cömert’s killing was viewed by the panel of the judges in the courtroom. Kuş’s lawyers contended that there is no risk that their client might escape, as he had attended previous hearings. The court on Friday rejected the request for Kuş’s arrest. The Cömert family’s request for a crime scene examination had also been rejected by the court previously.

In response to a reporter’s question regarding Zafer Cömert’s case, his younger brother Adnan Cömert said: “They are accusing us of terrorism. This how justice works in Turkey.”

The court case was first held in a Hatay court but was transferred by the Ministry of Justice to a Balıkesir court upon Kuş’s demand. The next hearing of the ongoing trial is scheduled for October.