20-year-old private Murat Polat died as the result of severe torture he experienced at the military prison of the 6th Army Corps Command in Adana. The related case was decided on Tuesday (28 February). 30 soldiers were on trial. The only person convicted was Hüseyin Güldaşı who is serving in the military as a "guard".
The Adana 5th High Criminal Court handed down a prison sentence of 25 years to 28-year-old Güldaşı who was tried without arrest. Twelve soldiers received monetary fines of TL 500 (€ 200) each on charges of "wilful and malicious injury" as stipulated in Article 86 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK). 16 soldiers were acquitted, among them the head of prison, Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa S., and four sergeants.
Lawyer Hülya Üçpınar from the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TİHV) told bianet that the prosecution did not asses the killing of Murat Polat as "torture" but demanded punishment based on "intentional homicide" according to Article 81 TCK.
The lawyer said that pursuant to the preparation of the indictment, they went to the court of jurisdictional disputes before the trial was opened at a military court. Thereupon, the case was handled by a civil court.
Defendant Hüseyin Güldaşı was arrested and imprisoned at that time. However, about four months later Güldaşı was released pending trial upon the appeal filed by his lawyers, Üçpınar recalled.
"Torturers are being protected"
Üçpınar and lawyer Şule Arslan Hızal from the Contemporary Lawyers Association (ÇHD) released the following statements about the judicial procedures subsequent to the killing of Polat by torture:
* On 27 June 2005, Murat Polat was arrested and detained in a military prison by reason of an alleged attempt of burglary. Prison staff beat him with truncheons and clubs and he fell into a coma. He remained in hospital for one month before he died. The related autopsy report documented that Polat lapsed into a coma and died as the result of beating.
* In an investigation into Polat's death launched by the military prosecution it was stated that several soldiers including Hasan Motu, Yener Bezek, Adil Kılıç, Mustafa Kılıç, Ahmet Sambur and Harun Teke had tortured other soldiers as well.
* It turned out that sergeants and military officers on duty had given orders to beat the detainees; once in a while they would carry out the beating themselves; these actions were not registered; guards seemed to be protected especially after the death of Murat Polat; they took advantage of the guards and had them commit the offences, hence the sergeants and military officers were accessory to the offences.
* The indictment was prepared about 30 soldiers on charges of "aggravated torture". The group of defendants included one lieutenant colonel and four sergeant majors. All defendants were alleged of having tortured other victims as well and causing the death of Murat Polat.
* The prosecutor's office sought punishment of the defendants on the grounds of torture. The Adana court however decreed that Polat's death was caused by Güldaşı alone. The court ruled that no other guardian and neither a commander were involved in the crime.
* It was concluded in the court decision that Güldaş committed the crime of "intentional homicide" according to Article 81 TCK. In addition, a mitigation of punishment was applied because the defendant showed regret about his offence.
* The prosecutor demanded punishment of the other perpetrators on the grounds of "torture". Yet, they were sentenced based on Article 86 TCK on "malicious injury". These sentences were converted into monetary fines and the pronouncement of judgement was postponed.
Both lawyers criticized that this file showed once more that torturers were still being protected by the judiciary and torture victims on the other hand were still left alone with their suffering. (EKN)