Colonel Mustafa Özmen stands trial for the alleged torture of detained conscientious objector Enver Aydemir who refused to do his military service because of religious reasons. Özmen apparently tortured Aydemir in the Maltepe (Istanbul) Military Prison. In his defence he said: "Maybe my hand slipped across his face".
Complainant Aydemir, his lawyer and un-detained defendant Özmen attended the first hearing of the case at the Selimiye (Istanbul) 1st Military Court on Thursday (23 September).
As reported by the Etha.com.tr website, defendant Özmen was previously convicted of beating a subordinate; the punishment had been converted into a monetary fine. The lawyers requested to open a further trial against him on the grounds of forgery of documents but the court board dismissed this demand saying that it was not of concern in the current case.
"Forced to wear military clothes"
In a cross-examination, the defence lawyers referred to the fact that the defendant forced Aydemir to lie down on the floor by bending his hands and arms and asked why Colonel Özmen did not draw up a record instead of resorting to violence. They furthermore questioned whether the regulations include an article on "making somebody wearing military clothes by force".
Defendant Albay refused to answer the questions. Thereupon, the lawyers stated that there is no such article in the regulations.
Colonel Özmen put forward that the report of the Maltepe Prison military physician attested the conscientious objector to be in good health.
Aydemir was examined in Eskişehir after he had been taken there from the Maltepe Prison. The medical report referred to Aydemir's condition after he left the Maltepe Prison and stated that "beating marks started to heal". When asked on this topic, defendant Özmen replied: "You have to ask this to the doctor".
"I have the records deleted if there was no element of crime"
Özmen called it a "standard application" that the according camera records of the prison were erased. Upon the insisting questions of the lawyers, Özmen admitted: "I watch the records and if there is no element of crime I have them deleted".
"I got very angry when he called the soldiers 'cruel'. I am a human being. I may have cursed. I held him by the shoulders to lead him out of the room, maybe my hand slipped across his face".
Defendant Özmen declined allegations of "kicking Aydemir on his chest", and applying a "bastinado" punishment as "defamation. He said that Aydemir was forced to sit down on a chair by two soldiers.
The colonel claimed that Aydemir only filed a criminal complaint about him instead of suing the soldiers who tortured him. In his opinion, this "was a political and ideological attitude to fray out the Turkish Armed Forces".
Aydemir gave a reason for the complaint against Özmen and said that the torture was carried out within the chain of command and that the other soldiers apologized to him later on.
The second hearing of the case is scheduled for 29 November. (BT/EÖ/VK)
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