A police officer photographed tear-gassing a woman in the face she passively stood in the midst of an anti-government protest in Turkey, could face prosecution and a three-year jail term, according to reports.
Fatih Zengin is accused of using excessive force against academic Ceyda Sungur, whose scarlet dress saw her come to be known as “the woman in red”, as she stood in Taksim Square in June last year.
The image of the academic facing a bank of riot police while being sprayed in the face from less than a meter away went viral.
Now Turkish prosecutors want Zengin to be dismissed and are calling for a prison sentence on the grounds that no warning was issued prior to the incident, the BBC reported on Thursday, citing Turkish news agencies.
Sungur had been branded one of the so-called “extremists” who Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government blamed for the demonstrations.
But earlier this week Sungur was cleared of charges of “provoking people to disobey laws” after the court ruled for a dismissal of the charges.
Istanbul Public Prosecutor Hüseyin Nazmi Okumuş said Sungur was preparing a list of injured protesters who needed medical assistance, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reports.
Speaking to Turkish press shortly after the incident, Sungur said: “Every citizen defending their human rights and every student defending university rights has witnessed the police violence I experienced.”
The protests began over proposals to redevelop Gezi Park in Istanbul. Police moved in to confront demonstrators, sparking violent clashes and a widening of anti-government sentiment.
At least seven people, including a police officer were killed during the unrest, which Erdogan blamed on a foreign-backed conspiracy.