Turkish Police in High-Profile Trial for Student's Death
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Some 2,000 Turkish riot police were on standby Monday as four of their colleagues stand trial for allegedly beating to death a 19-year-old student during three weeks of anti-government protests last June.
The high-profile court case comes as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan battles his biggest crisis in 11 years in power, hitting the economy and threatening the strongman's presidential ambitions.
Pummelled with baseball bats and truncheons in the western city of Eskisehir on June 2, Ali Ismail Korkmaz was one of six people to perish as nationwide protests convulsed 80-million-strong Turkey.
In an attack recorded by security cameras, the student, wearing a "World Peace" T-shirt, suffered a brain haemorrhage and died after 38 days in a coma, AFP reported.
Eight men, including four plain-clothes policemen, are accused of premeditated murder and face life in jail if convicted.
In an attempt to avoid fresh trouble, authorities are holding Monday's trial some 550 kilometres (350 miles) east of Eskisehir in Kayseri, but hundreds of demonstrators were still expected.
"My son will never come back but I want his killers punished," the dead student's mother Emel Korkmaz told Turkish media, saying she would attend the trial to "look them in the eye".
More than 8,000 people were injured, the Turkish Medical Association says, during protests in June that began as a peaceful sit-in against plans to build on a Istanbul park.
Erdogan called the demonstrators "vandals" and branded Twitter, used to organise protests, a "troublemaker". Heavy-handed police tools included tear gas, plastic bullets and even live ammunition.
Amnesty International said there were "gross human rights violations" and German Chancellor Angela Merkel - hosting Erdogan in Berlin this Tuesday - at the time called the police response "much too harsh".