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Turkey police fire tear gas to disperse court protesters

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Turkish police fired water cannon and tear gas Monday to disperse around 2,000 people protesting at a court's refusal to detain a policeman accused of killing a demonstrator during the popular unrest in June.

A police officer identified only as Ahmet S. is on trial accused of shooting to death 26-year-old Ethem Sarisuluk during mass anti-government street protests in Ankara in June.

The Ankara court on Monday rejected a demand by the victim's lawyers that the defendant be detained and ruled instead that he could take part in hearings via video conference for security reasons.

The angry crowd outside the court shouted anti-government slogans in protest at the ruling, prompting the police intervention.

The hearing was adjourned to December 2.

In a video widely broadcast on the Internet, the victim was seen suddenly collapsing on the street in front of the helmeted police officer, who then fled the scene.

The officer faces a charge of "exceeding legitimate self-defence" and risks a prison term of up to five years.

He was released after a first hearing last month and the trial was delayed after a fight broke out between defence lawyers and plaintiffs.

The accused, who had appeared in the dock in September wearing a wig and a fake moustache so as not to be identified, was not in court on Monday.

The summer unrest in Turkey was sparked by a brutal police crackdown against a local battle to save an Istanbul park and snowballed into nationwide demonstrations against the Islamic-rooted government which left six people dead.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has been widely criticised for its handling of the crisis, with United States and other Western allies condemning the use of excessive police force against protesters.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131028/turkey-police-fire-tear-gas-disperse-court-protesters