A group of local journalists who covered an independent fact-finding investigation into the September 5 killing of 11-year-old Mizgin Ozbek
in the Southeast province of Batman have been summoned to the provincial prosecutors' office where they were questioned this week.
Ozbek, traveling in a car with her mother and elder brother, was killed when security forces opened fire on the vehicle that also carried two gunmen believed to be members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Her mother and brother were wounded in the incident where the two armed passengers were also killed but maintained later that the suspects had boarded the car as hitchhikers. They said they were all sprayed with bullets.
Summoned to the Prosecutors Office in relation to their coverage of the killing and a subsequent independent human rights investigation conducted into the incident, were Batman Cagdas newspaper owner Nedim Arslan and editor Arif Aslan, Batman Petrol newspaper editor Mustafa Seven and Batman Postasi newspaper owner Kemal Celik.
The four are being investigated under article 301/2 of the Turkish Penal Code for "publicly denigrating the military and police establishment", article 285 for "violating the secrecy of an investigation" and article 288 for "influencing the course of justice".
"We denigrated no one"
According to a report in the Batman Cagdas newspaper, the journalists testified to Public Prosecutor Ahmet Akca for approximately an hour this Tuesday and rejected the allegations against them.
They told the prosecutor that they had reported on the views of the civil society organizations that conducted the probe into the killing and had in no way denigrated anyone. Any of the allegations reported, they said, came from Mizgin's mother, father and elder brother.
The questioning of the newsmen comes in the wake of a separate investigation launched by the prosecutors office against 5 members of the delegation that investigated the girl's killing and issued a report afterwards.
Delegation members from the Batman Bar Association, the Human Rights Association (IHD) and Association for Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed (MAZLUMDER) also testified in the past days.
The investigations follow last month's Fact-Finding Report that the delegation released in which it was suggested that the incident, which left Mizgin dead and her mother Saniye, and elder brother Hadi wounded, showed that necessary care was not shown in protecting their right to life.
The report proposed an investigation into the incident stressing various findings that challenged the official view that the killing was not only inevitable, but result of a clash between security forces and "terrorists" where Mizgin had been caught in a cross-fire.
The fact-finding report into Mizgin's death warned that the recently passed Anti-Terror Law article authorizing security forces to open fire on anyone without warning them to stop will lead to disproportional use of force and bring together with it abuse of authority.
It called on authorities to investigate whether there was a neglect or carelessness in the killing of an 11-year-old child and finalize this investigation as soon as possible and listed its own findings as:
* Investigation at the scene of incident showed that because the scene itself was a very narrow and closed stream, because there was no possibility for those involved to have escaped, there is a strong possibility that they could have been apprehended alive.
* At the scene of incident a large number of foreign origin empty cartridges belonging to long-range weapons were found. In official statements that appeared in the press, it was claimed the "militants had thrown bombs". Nothing was found to support this.
* It is understood from his own statements that Hadi Ozbek who was driving the car during the incident was subjected to verbal and physical insults and torture.
* The dragging of Mizgin's dead body after the clash by holding her by the hair in front of her older brother has deeply effected her brother and when he was telling our delegation about the incident, he was having difficulties because he cried.
* According to witness Hadi Ozbek's statements, the bodies of the two armed organization members who were killed were dragged for a while before they were sprayed with bullets again. Batman Governor Haluk Imga, on the other hand, said officials told him such an incident never took place. This issue will be understood more clearly when the post-mortem report is examined.
* A confiscation order issued for the vehicle used by Hadi Ozbek had prevented any examination of the vehicle. According to information received from the outside, the Kozluk Public Prosecutor's Office has not opened a separate investigation into the killing of Mizgin Ozbek but preferred instead to investigate her death in the capacity of the current investigation. (KO/TK/II/YE/EU)