Activists want racism motive to be probed in Nigerian migrant's murder

Activists said on March 18 that they will continue their struggle until Turkish authorities put all police officers involved in the murder of Nigerian migrant Festus Okey on trial and acknowledge the “discriminatory dimension of the incident.”

Duvar English

The Justice for Festus Okey Initiative on March 18 released a statement with regards to the sentencing of police officer Cengiz Yıldız to 16 years in prison over the 2007 murder of the Nigerian migrant.

The initiative said although the conviction has “to some extent restored the feeling of justice,” authorities have not still acknowledged that Okey's murder is related to “racial discrimination.”

The initiative also demanded that not only Yıldız but also other police officers who were on duty at the Istanbul Beyoğlu Police Station at the time of Okey's death stand trial as there was also negligence on their part.

“As the followers of the case, we believe that this decision has to some extent restored the feeling of justice which was damaged in the eyes of Festus' family and society. Our struggle will continue for authorities to put all public officials involved in the incident on trial and to determine the discriminatory dimension of this incident,” online news portal Bianet quoted the initiative as saying. 

The Istanbul 21st Heavy Penal Court on March 17 sentenced police officer Yıldız to 16 years and eight months in prison for murdering Okey at the Beyoğlu Police Station in 2007.

In 2011, Yıldız was sentenced to 4 years and 20 days imprisonment for killing Okey. The decision was later reversed by the Court of Cassation on the grounds that Yıldız should stand trial for murder with eventual intent.

A second trial for Okey's case started in 2018, this time with his mother and brother's involvement. The family has argued that Okey’s death is related to racial discrimination and that the investigation has not been carried out effectively.

Turkey's Constitutional Court in January ruled that Okey's right to life had been violated and ordered the state to pay his family 80,000 liras in compensation.

The top court however did not accept the family's argument that an effective investigation had not been conducted with regards to the role of public officials in the murder, on the grounds that “not all domestic remedies have been exhausted.”

The top court also dismissed the claims of “racial discrimination” against Okey, saying there was “no explicit evidence” suggesting this.