A civilian suspect in the investigation into the murder of Gezi Park protester Ali İsmail Korkmaz in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir has confessed that a riot police officer told civilians, including himself, to catch protesters so they could “beat them with sticks.”
Arrested suspect police officer Mevlüt Saldoğan shouted to them to “catch protesters,” the fourth civilian suspect in the investigation, Ebubekir Harlar, said in his testimony taken by Eskişehir’s 6th Criminal Court of Peace on Aug. 15, daily Radikal reported.
Harlar said he was working in a bakery in central Eskişehir where protests continued and he was there to prevent the Gezi protesters from “looting.”
Footage showing assailants in civilian clothes beating protesters with sticks emerged on July 12 as part of an investigation into the death of Korkmaz, who was buried in his hometown of Hatay on July 11 after spending weeks in hospital with severe injuries sustained during the beating.
Harlar said the civilians who were holding sticks in the video were plain clothes police officers.
“A policeman shouted ‘catch that guy.’ Two men, probably the owners of bakeries, stopped him and I tripped him up, but did not beat him. I did it to help our state’s police. The other three beat him, kicking and punching. One of them was the police officer, who told us to catch him and he hit him in the head,” Harlar said.
That police officer is Mevlüt Saldoğan, according to Harlar’s testimony.
The arrests came after the Gendarmerie Criminal Unit recovered security camera footage showing a group of people beating Korkmaz. The footage had earlier been reported as erased.
Eight people, including four public employees, were detained on Aug. 7, while four of the suspects were later released. One of the arrested public employees is a police officer in the anti-terrorism unit Eskişehir Governor Güngör Azim Tuna recently refuted claims that the police was involved in the killing. “Mainly civilians were involved in this incident,” Tuna said on Aug. 8.
Korkmaz, 19, was the fifth person killed since the start of the protests in late May.