Saturday, November 15, 2008

Arrests at Sakarya Prison: The Beginning of the End for Impunity

A long way to go, but if this is not just public relations, good progress indeed. From TDZ:
Five prison guards at a Sakarya prison were arrested on Thursday for abusing and torturing an inmate.

An investigation was launched recently by the Sakarya Public Prosecutor's Office into prison guards at the Sakarya Ferizli Prison, deemed one of Turkey's most modern prisons, who were accused of torturing an inmate, identified by the initials S.İ. The inmate was arrested and placed in prison last month on charges of sexually harassing three children.

S.İ. filed a criminal complaint against five prison guards earlier this month, saying he was subjected to various types of torture, including being burned with a hot iron. The prosecutor's office examined prison camera footage and verified that S.İ. was tortured and mistreated. Five prison guards were ordered arrested on Thursday by a court.

The arrests came only weeks after the death of an activist, allegedly at the hands of police and prison guards at an İstanbul prison. Engin Çeber, an inmate at İstanbul's Metris Prison, died last month after reportedly being abused and tortured, initially at the hands of police officers who interrogated him and later by prison security personnel when he was in jail. Çeber was pronounced dead after suffering from a brain hemorrhage as a result of head trauma. An autopsy suggested that severe bruises were detected on various parts of his body, strengthening claims that the activist was subjected to torture.

Results of the autopsy were verified by a forensic report released on Thursday, which cited the reason behind Çeber's death as torture. The nine-page report stated that Çeber died of a type of torture known as corporal punishment.

Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin, who previously apologized for the death of Çeber on behalf of the Turkish state and the government, stated that his ministry is diligently investigating claims of mistreatment and torture.

"We consider human dignity above all. The Justice Ministry and the government are fighting against all wrongdoings, and we will continue to do so," he said.
According to the January-October 2008 report of the Human Rights Association (İHD), 238 people applied to the association for having been tortured during this period. 26 people died in the prisons or because of the rights violations in the prison during the same period.

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