Press Freedom

‘No threat detected’: Istanbul governor refuses to permit criminal investigation against Hanifi Zengin

The İstanbul Governor’s Office refused to grant permission for a criminal investigation to be launched against police chief Hanifi Zengin who threatened Artı TV cameraman Bilal Meyveci and prevented him from covering a protest.

The Chief of the Security Branch at the İstanbul Provincial Security Directorate Hanifi Zengin threatened cameraman Bilal Meyveci who was covering the Ekrem Karakaya protest of healthcare workers on June 7, 2022. Zengin 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!” Following the incident, MLSA’s Legal Team filed a criminal complaint against Hanifi Zengin and other law enforcement officers who may have been involved for “misuse of public duty”, “threat” and “violation of the freedom to work and labor.” After the criminal complaint, an inquiry against police chief Zengin was launched. Concluding the inquiry, the İstanbul Governor’s Office refused to grant permission for a criminal investigation  to be launched against Zengin.

The Governor’s Office grounded its decision on a “preliminary investigation report” prepared by a 2nd Class Police Chief assigned by the General Directorate of Security and who claimed that “the protest was unlawful”, that “Police Chief Hanifi Zengin was following the event very carefully and told members of the press that they can cover the event without being part of the [protesting] group and without preventing [the police] to carry out their duties” but “some members of the press did not heed the warnings.”

Summarizing the preliminary report, in the decision it was stated that “It can be heard that Meyveci told whom he later found out to be Police Chief Hanifi Zengin, ‘You stepped on my foot’ to which the police chief replied ‘Do you have the footage of me stepping on your foot?’ However, after the video which was submitted as evidence was reviewed, it was heard that 3rd Class Police Chief Hanifi Zengin asked ‘Did you record me stepping on your foot?’ but no threat was detected. Furthermore, there is no further evidence to support Zengin stepping on Meyveci’s foot and no further basis for other allegations.”

Refusing to grant permission for a criminal investigation 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, the governor’s office also decided that there is no need to bring disciplinary proceedings against Zengin.

The lawyers of MLSA’s Legal Unit will appeal the decision at the İstanbul District Administrative Court.

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