The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave an important ruling concerned with the death of soldiers at military posts.
According to the news of Milliyet newspaper, the Turkish government is to pay a fine of TL 18,000 (€ 9,000) to the family of soldier M.M. who allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his unit on 15 July 2004.
Military service despite obvious health problems
The ECHR drew attention to the fact that MM. had been in hospital three times before he committed suicide. He suffered from psychological problems and was obviously addicted to alcohol and other drugs. The international court decreed that it was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights to have M.M. done his military service despite his problematic psychological and physical situation.
It was said in the decision that the state carries responsibility for considering the development as well as past experiences of a person who is accepted to the military.
Responsibility of military officials
According to the ECHR decision as published in the İzlem e-magazine of the Human Rights Joint Platform, M.M. was suffering from psychological problems three times while he was doing his military service. He was taken to hospital and subsequently sent back to the military each time. On 15 July 2004, he was found hanged at his unit. His family applied to the related military unit and the prosecution claiming that M.M. had not committed suicide but was beaten to death at his unit. The family eventually applied to the ECHR after domestic remedies had been exhausted.
The ECHR found that even assuming that M.M. died as the result of suicide, it had to be investigated whether the military officials fulfilled their responsibility of anticipating this sort of risk and preventing it respectively.
A report issued about M.M. found him "suitable for the military service" despite his psychological problems and his addiction to alcohol and narcotics. The ECHR held that the involved military officials did not fulfil the due diligence that would have been appropriate for this issue.
According to the decision of the Strasbourg-based court, M.M. had not received the necessary treatment even though he was hospitalized three times. The court emphasized that although his situation had worsened, only assuasive measures had been taken. The court concluded that the present regulations of the military health examination system were deficient. It was stressed by the ECHR that the state carried responsibility for this incident even if it was a suicide. (YY/VK)
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