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Turkey’s top court fines gov’t for police violence against journalist in 2015 protest

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ordered the government to pay TL 15,000 ($2,160) in damages to journalist Beyza Kural, who was subjected to ill-treatment by police officers while covering a demonstration in İstanbul in 2015, local media reported on Thursday.

The top court found the police attempt to detain Kural by handcuffing her behind her back while she was covering a demonstration against the Higher Education Board (YÖK) — Turkey’s top education watchdog — in Beyazıt, İstanbul, unlawful.

During the protests, Kural was rear-handcuffed by police officers who threatened her, saying: “Nothing will be the same anymore. We will make you learn this” while attempting to put her into a police vehicle before they were prevented by other journalists in the area who were also covering the demonstrations.

The attempted detention of Kural violated freedom of expression, press freedom and prohibition of treatment incompatible with human dignity, the court said, rendering its judgment on Jan. 12 on an application filed by Kural in 2016.

The top court also ordered the Turkish government to pay TL 15,000 ($2,160) in non-pecuniary damages to Kural and ruled that a new investigation be launched to eliminate the consequences of the related rights violations.

Kural’s individual application to the top court came after the criminal complaints she had filed against police officers identified by the initials Y.Ş., N.D. and K.A ended in non-prosecution, with her objections to the court rejected on the grounds that “the police did not exceed their right to use force.”

Students demonstrated in 2015 against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and government control of universities, demanding the abolition of YÖK, which was created by the then-military junta in 1981 to manage universities and is regarded as an instrument of state control.

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