The Turkish police officer who tear-gassed a woman at last year’s Gezi protests, an image that became a symbol of the government’s heavy-handed response, may ultimately face time behind bars.
According to an indictment issued last week, officer Fatih Zengin, 23, sprayed Ceyda Sungur in the face from less than three feet (one meter) away, without warning, and continued after she had turned away to protect herself, according to Turkish media reports.
Known as the “woman in red” after images of the incident went viral, Sungur's likeness was reproduced in cartoons, stickers and posters at the protests. That image came to epitomize police violence against protesters. Popular outrage at the government’s use of force inspired a wider protest movement around the country, which left six people dead and thousands injured last year.
Prosecutors say Zengin used excessive force, and are seeking a three-year jail term and his dismissal from the police, Doğan news agency reported.
Sungur earlier faced charges of “provoking people to disobey laws” at the protests, but an Istanbul court dismissed the case on Wednesday, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.
Sungur's appearance at the protest in a red dress, holding a shopping bag, stood out against the image of “extremists” portrayed by the government.
While dismissing the case against her on Wednesday, the Istanbul court said Sungur was compiling a list of injured protesters at the site.