Turkey Convicted of Extrajudicial Killing By Military and Police

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Relatives of Hüseyin Altın, İbrahim Kılıç and Aşkın Günel had applied to the  European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) arguing that their relatives could have been caught alive during the operations but were nevertheless fatally shot in the head after being captured, and complained about the extrajudicial killings in the operations.

The ECtHR has sentenced Turkey to pay compensation for “violating the right to life” in both cases.

Son’s body was handed over naked

Aşkın Günel, the son of the applicant, Ms Günel’s, was fatally shot in the head and the shin bone by the Gendarmerie during an operation in Aktuluk village of Dersim on November 9, 2004. The security forces said in their reports that Günel was a member of the Maoist Communist Party (MKP).

His mother said that her son’s body was handed over to her in a crowded environment, with his clothes taken off.  

The court’s account of events is as follows:

“On 9 November 2004 Aşkın Günel was killed during an anti-terrorist operation conducted by the security forces in the Tunceli region, near the village of Aktuluk. On the day of the incident a report was drawn up mentioning injuries to his head and an old injury to his tibia. According to Ms Günel, the unclothed body of her son had been handed over to her in public.

“On 10 January 2005 the Tunceli prosecutor dismissed the case on the grounds that the alleged terrorists had opened fire first and injured two brigadiers, one of whom had died as a result of his wounds; the prosecutor concluded that the soldiers had acted in self-defence. That decision was not communicated to Ms Günel.

“On 24 August 2005 Ms Günel lodged a complaint against the Gendarmerie officers who had taken part in the operation on the ground that her son, who had been surrounded by the security forces and had already been shot in the tibia, could have been taken alive. That complaint was also dismissed in December 2005. It was subsequently upheld by the President of the Erzincan Assize Court in February 2006.

“Relying in particular on Article 2 (right to life), Ms Günel submitted that the military operation which had resulted in the death of her son had not been prepared by the authorities in such a way as to minimise the use of lethal force. She further complained of the lack of an in-depth, impartial and effective investigation”.

The court has found Turkey guilty of violating the right to life guaranteed in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and sentenced the state to compensate non-pecuniary damages of the applicants through a just satisfaction in amount of 20,000 euro.

Brothers shot in the head after getting caught

Esma Altın’s brother and İsmail Kılıç’s brother were killed during a police operation against the PKK in Diyarbakır.

The court decision described the events as follows:

“On 3 December 2003 the security forces raided an apartment in Diyarbakır, after having received an anonymous telephone tip-off concerning the presence of terrorists there. A team of 42 police officers surrounded the apartment, surmising that the occupants were preparing a bomb attack. An exchange of fire with the security forces resulted in the deaths of Ms Altın’s and Mr Kılıç’s brothers (Hüseyin Altın and İbrahim Kılıç), who had been in the apartment.

“On 18 December 2003 Ms Altın lodged a complaint with the Public Prosecutor against the police officers involved in the operation, stating that her brother had not been a member of an illegal organisation and that when she had visited the premises a few days after the incident a woman had told her that her brother had been killed outside the building, after having been transported there. According to the expert report, traces of gunpowder had been found on Hüseyin Altın’s right hand and on both İbrahim Kılıç’s hands.

“On 21 June 2007, the Diyarbakir Prosecutor, having regard to the official records, the statements given by the police officers and the eye-witnesses, and the expert reports, dismissed the case on the grounds that the first shot had been fired from inside the building and that the police officers had used their weapons in self-defence after the suspects’ refusal to be bound over.

“On 13 July 2007, Ms Altın and Mr Kılıç challenged that decision on the grounds that their brothers had been killed under suspicious circumstances, given that both of them had been shot in the head.

“On 1 August, 2007 the President of the Siverek Assize Court upheld the dismissal decision.

“Relying in particular on Article 2 (right to life), Ms Altın and Mr Kılıç complained of a violation of their brothers’ right to life, submitting that the operation had not been prepared in such a way as to limit the use of lethal force; they also complained about the lack of an effective and impartial Investigation.

The ECtHR ruled that Article 2 (right to life) of the Convention had been violated on the grounds that no effective and impartial investigation had been carried out, and ordered Turkey to pay 10,000 euros to each applicant as compensation for non-pecuniary damages and 4,000 euros to the applicants jointly to compensate them for the court costs and expenses. (AS/DG)