June 10, 2015 / 5:16 PM / 3 years ago

Turkish policeman sentenced to plant trees for gassing 'lady in red'

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish policeman whose teargassing of a woman in a red dress became a symbol of anti-government protests two years ago was found guilty on Wednesday of misconduct and ordered by a court to plant 600 trees.

A Turkish riot policeman uses tear gas as people protest against the destruction of trees in a park brought about by a pedestrian project, in Taksim Square in central Istanbul May 28, 2013. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

The image of the “lady in red”, her hair billowing upwards as officer Fatih Zengin sprayed teargas in her face, was endlessly shared on social media and replicated as a cartoon on posters, mugs and stickers during the protests.

Zengin’s sentence appeared to contain a deliberate irony. The protests, which began as a bid to stop the redevelopment of Gezi Park in central Istanbul, were dismissed by the government at the time as “nothing to do with trees”.

The demonstrations spiraled into the worst anti-government unrest for years, spreading to cities around the country.

The Istanbul court handed down a suspended sentence of 20 months in jail, which Zengin will only serve if he repeats the offense in the next five years. He will, however, be responsible for the young trees for six months after planting them.

Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Alison Williams

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