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Turkey’s top appeals court upholds sentence of police officer who shot young Syrian refugee to death

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Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a police officer who shot a young Syrian refugee to death in 2020, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

In a landmark decision in December 2021, the Adana 9th High Criminal Court handed down a prison sentence of 25 years to the police officer, identified only by the initials F.K., for killing 17 year-old Ali El Hamdani.

Hamdani was killed by F.K. in southern Adana province in April 2020 after he fled a security checkpoint. The bullet hit near Hamdani’s heart. An official statement released by the Adana Governor’s Office at the time said he was “accidentally shot by warning shots” after he continued to run despite calls to stop.

Hamdani ran away from the security checkpoint to avoid a possible fine because of a nationwide curfew imposed on people below the age of 20 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The young Syrian had to continue to work during the outbreak.

The police officer was arrested immediately after the shooting and was put on trial.

The officer was initially given a life sentence on conviction of murder by the local court. However, the judges reduced the life sentence to 25 years in prison, citing F.K.’s good conduct in court.

Video footage circulating on social media showed an emergency medical team working on a young man, claimed to be Hamdani, before putting him in an ambulance.

Hate crimes against refugees and migrants have been escalating in recent years as Turkish media, including pro-government and opposition outlets, fuel and exploit the flames of hatred against people who fled their countries and sought refuge in Turkey.

Turkey currently hosts the largest refugee population in the world. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Turkey, under its temporary protection regime, has granted 3,535,898 Syrian nationals the right to legally stay in the country. The vast majority, 3,488,373 of them, live outside camps, while 47,525 Syrians reside in seven camps.

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