Press Freedom

Administrative Court: Police chief Hanifi Zengin must be investigated

The İstanbul District Administrative Court revoked the decision of the Governor’s Office refusing to grant permission for criminal investigations to be launched against police chief Hanifi Zengin against whom allegations of threat, battery and insult were leveled because of his actions towards journalists. The court also ordered an investigation to be launched against Zengin.

On November 9th, the court revoked the decision taken by the Governor’s Office to refuse permission for criminal investigations to be launched against police chief Hanifi Zengin after MLSA’s Legal Team had filed criminal complaints against Zengin because of his treatment towards Artı TV cameraman Bilal Meyveci and AFP photojournalist Bülent Kılıç.

Reasoning that “administrative permission is not needed for criminal investigation to be conducted” for the offenses in the criminal complaints against Zengin, the court unanimously ruled to send Zengin’s file to the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for “an investigation to be conducted according to general provisions.”

Lawyer Veysel Ok: The court’s handed down a precedent setting judgment

Commenting on the judgments of the court, MLSA Co-Director Veysel Ok stated: “The Administrative Court has handed down a precedent setting judgment about Hanifi Zengin who recently has been a prominent figure at public demonstrations. The court has brought an end to the İstanbul Governor’s Office’s routine practice to refuse permission for criminal investigations to be launched against public officials who are accused of committing offenses without even conducting proper inquiry. The Governor’s Office refuses to grant permission for criminal investigations to be launched against public officials especially in cases of violence against journalists. Investigations will be initiated following this decision. I believe these investigations which are of great importance with regards to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, might evolve into important lawsuits if the public closely follows them.

Zengin threatened Meyveci and had Kılıç detained 

Zengin had threatened journalist Meyveci by saying “Did you record it? Did you record me stepping on your foot? Did you record me stepping on your foot because I will see you later if you didn’t!” while Meyveci was covering the Ekrem Karakaya protest of healthcare workers on 7 June 2022.

Zengin also had AFP photojournalist Bülent Kılıç detained while Kılıç was covering the Pride March on 26 June 2022.

On behalf of Meyveci and Kılıç, MLSA’s Legal Team filed criminal complaints against Hanifi Zengin and other law enforcement officers who may have been involved in these incidents for “misuse of public duty”, “threat” and “violation of the freedom to work and labor.” Following the criminal complaints, inquiries were launched against Zengin.

The İstanbul Governor’s Office refused to grant permission for criminal investigations to be launched against Zengin as per the Article 6 of the Law No. 4483 on the Trial of Civil Servants and Other Public Officials.

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