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Teen whose skull was broken by Turkey police canister gets jail term

Tonbul had his sentence reduced alongside four other teens as their lawyer described the Gezi vigil they attended as peaceful

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A Turkish teenager who lost part of his skull after being hit by a police tear gas canister during a protest last year was given a three-month and 10-day sentence for allegedly resisting police, alongside four other high school students, Today’s Zaman reported Thursday.

Mustafa Ali Tonbul, 17, made headlines last year after an incident in which he was participating in a tent vigil in support of the Gezi movement in the western city of Izmir when the police intervened and tried to disperse the protesters.

In 2013, protesters demonstrated against a plan for an urban development in Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park. But the demonstration mushroomed into bigger protests after the eviction of a sit-in at the park.

Initially, the prosecutor of the five teenagers’ cases sought a prison sentence between one and four-and-a-half years for each. However, the defendants’ lawyer stated that the vigil attended by Tonbul and his friends was recognized as peaceful under the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), prompting the court to reduce sentence to three months and 10 days.

Tonbul’s father expressed shock over the court’s decision when speaking to the media.

“What has my son done? He is a boy [who was] harmed by the state. There have been no charges concerning that incident.”

He added: “With that case aside, how can they rule this way? My son is astonished. He asked, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’”