A regional appeals court in İstanbul has upheld a prison sentence handed down to a police officer who was convicted of causing the death of Berkin Elvan during the anti-government Gezi Park protests in İstanbul in 2013, the Birgün daily reported.
The first Criminal Chamber of the İstanbul Regional Appeals Court upheld the prison sentence of almost 17 years given to police officer Fatih Dalgalı, who hit the 14-year-old in the head with a tear gas canister.
Elvan died on March 11, 2014 after remaining in a coma for 269 days. He was 14 when the police officer shot him in the head with a tear gas canister and 15 when he died.
In June 2021 the İstanbul 17th High Criminal Court sentenced Dalgalı, the only suspect in the case, to life in prison on charges of manslaughter, but the sentence was reduced to 16 years, eight months because the murder was committed due to “probable intent.”
The court did not arrest Dalgalı but placed him under judicial supervision and imposed a travel ban.
Dalgalı will start serving his time if the Supreme Court of Appeals also upholds the prison sentence handed down to him.
Elvan’s mother, Gülsüm who held then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responsible for Berkin’s death because he ordered the police to use excessive force to suppress the protests, was attacked by Erdoğan at a public rally in 2014. Erdoğan branded Berkin a terrorist and let the crowd boo the woman.
In February, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a rights violation in the death of Elvan. The rights court said the Turkish authorities failed to conduct an effective investigation into government officials’ possible roles in the death of the teenager.
The mass protests that rocked the country in 2013 started over plans to demolish Gezi Park, one of the rare green spaces in central İstanbul.
The anger quickly spiraled into broader protests against Erdoğan over his authoritarian policies, such as controlling the media and the judiciary.
The Erdoğan government’s harsh response to the Gezi protestors left 11 people dead and thousands injured.