Turkish riot police officer who gassed Gezi's 'lady in red' ordered to plant 600 trees

The woman became an icon of the Gezi Park uprising in 2013

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The Independent Online

A Turkish police officer who tear-gassed a woman wearing a red dress during an anti-government protest in Gezi Park has been ordered to plant 600 trees as a punishment.

According to the Hürriyet Daily News, Fatih Zengin received a suspended sentence of 20 months in prison after being caught on camera appearing to crouch down and blast the gas directly into Ceyda Sungur's face from less than a metre away.

'Woman in red' becomes reluctant symbol of resistance
Turkish riot police officer who gassed ‘lady in red’ faces prosecution

An academic at Istanbul Technical University, Ms Sungur had only just arrived at the protest wearing a summer dress with a white bag over her shoulder, and had not been involved in any provocative acts.

Police fired teargas and water cannons at protesters as they tried to prevent them gathering in Gezi Park

But the image of her wearing bright red became a symbol of the "Occupy Gezi" protests in the summer of 2013, spreading on social media and even being printed on stickers and posters.

Local media said that Zengin will not actually serve any time in prison, as the Istanbul court suspended his sentence.

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The court said in its ruling that Zengin had been sentenced to 10 months for exceeding his authority to use force and committing the crime of “injuring people.”

Protesters shower police with blooms in Taksim Square yesterday

He was sentenced to a further 10 months for “malpractice” for spraying tear gas at people in the vicinity, including Ms Sungur, without warning - and for kicking them.

The court also ordered the police officer to plant 600 trees and to tend the trees for six months.

The protests two years ago started as a peaceful demonstration against government plans to redevelop Istanbul’s Gezi park, one of the last remaining green spaces in the city.

It escalated into an unprecedented show of defiance against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government after police used tear gas and water cannon to try to clear the site.

At least seven people, including a police officer, were killed in unrest which spread to cities around the country, while Mr Erdogan blamed the unrest on a foreign-backed conspiracy.