The Press and Public Relations Department of the Turkish Police Headquarters issued a statement on Friday defending the decision to promote Sedat Selim Ay, the newly appointed deputy director of the Istanbul Anti-Terror Police Department who had been convicted of charges of rape and torture and whose actions also led to a verdict against Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as well.
The suits and administrative investigations launched against him constitute no obstacle before his promotion to the office, the statement said, but lawyer Ergin Cinmen and Justice Orhan Gazi Ertekin, the co-chair of the Democratic Judiciary Association, had another story to tell.
Justice Ertekin: "The 'new Turkey' is a perpetuation of the 'old Turkey'"
"[The statement of the Police Headquarters] is nothing out of the usual. It is one of Turkey's classic realities. We can easily say there is a situation in Turkey pertaining to the ideology of civil servants. This is how the [profile] of civil servants in Turkey comes about," Justice Ertekin told bianet.
"We have a system of promotion for civil servants where everyone who feels vigilant against dissidents in particular can easily receive a promotion. As such, I am not surprised at all. We have been talking about 'zero tolerance toward torture' for decades, but [all] governments put methods of torture into circulation in different ways that suit their own needs," he said.
"I believe in not taking very seriously the increasingly amplified rhetoric on the rule of law in recent times because what we call the 'new Turkey' is exactly a perpetuation of the 'old Turkey,'" Justice Ertekin said, and called on everyone to question the concrete reality we are facing instead.
The Police Headquarters' statement
"In contrast with the allegations [leveled against him,] Turkey did not receive a sentence from the ECHR due to acts committed by Police Chief [Ay.] He was penalized for not [conducting] an adequate inquiry because of the slander against him by the woman involved in the incident nine months after she was taken into custody, despite the lack of any indication or claim in either the medical reports nor in her own testimony pertaining to battery or rape," the police headquarters' statement said.
Two local courts decided to penalize Ay in the suits filed in wake of the operations that took place in 1996 and 1997, but they also ruled to suspend these penalties, the statement said, adding that the files were then dismissed due to statute of limitations and thus never ratified by the Supreme Court of Appeals.
Lawyer Cinmen: "Appointment is unacceptable"
The fact that Police Chief Ay's sentence had been suspended does not mean he had not committed the crime; to the contrary, it is an indication of the fact that he did commit the offense in question indeed, lawyer Cinmen told bianet.
Since Ay's sentence had been suspended, the decision could not possibly be referred to the Supreme Court of Appeals anyway, he also added.
Since the Police Headquarters' statement referred to two court verdicts, that means he was sentenced multiple times, Cinmen said.
"It does not say 'acquittal' there; it says ' not ratified.' It is impossible to say anything without seeing that verdict... It is unacceptable for someone who underwent so many trials, whose trials were subsequently referred to the ECHR and who remains under so much doubt to be appointed to an office like the Anti-Terror Department," he said.
The Police Headquarters' statement also said the ECHR had rejected the request for pecuniary damages with respect to the incident in question:
"Moreover, the Fatih Chief Prosecutor's Office ruled to dismiss the charges in relation to the alleged act of rape, too. The Police Headquarters' Inspection Board Presidency also concluded that the allegation was entirely baseless," the statement further said.
"It had become imperative to deliver this statement due to the [emergence of the] baseless news stories, comments and allegations which ignore all the judicial and administrative investigations and decisions." (EKN)