3 gendarmes suspended on accusations of killing young man who allegedly looted a quake region liquor store

Three gendarmes who are accused of beating Ahmet Güreşçi to death in custody after he and his brother Sabri allegedly looted a liquor store in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, where last week’s devastating earthquake hit the hardest, have been suspended from duty, the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Wednesday, citing the Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) Association.

The gendarmes were suspended on accusations of engaging in torture and ill-treatment of a suspect in custody.

The ÖHD said: “The judicial proceedings for torture within the gendarmerie have been completed, and Ahmet Güreşçi’s brother Sabri Güreşçi was released. At the same time, Ahmet Güreşçi’s father filed a complaint regarding the death of his son. Sabri Güreşçi identified the torturers, and three gendarmes were suspended for torture and ill-treatment.”

According to the preliminary autopsy report, Ahmet Güreşçi died due to a “brain hemorrhage.” His lawyers from the ÖHD said a lesion on his body and a fractured nose were also detected.

Videos circulating on social media in the wake of a devastating earthquake that hit Turkey on February 6 have shown scenes of looting, aid convoys being hijacked and alleged looters being beaten by the authorities and angry mobs in earthquake-affected cities.

According to the latest official figures, 35,000 people died in Turkey after the earthquake in addition to injuring more than 80,000. Close to 60,000 disaster victims have been evacuated from the region so far.

Local media reports and videos shared on social media indicated that looting spread across quake-struck Turkish cities, with violent incidents.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday said the reports circulating of looting of damaged stores and buildings in Turkey have increased security concerns and that his government would crack down on those involved in looting and similar crimes.

Turkish security authorities arrested 124 people in connection with looting incidents in the earthquake-hit regions, local media reported the same day, citing Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ.

However, worrying scenes continued to come in videos widely shared on social media as hate crimes and violence targeting alleged looters, especially those claimed to be Syrian or Afghan refugees, increased in the areas affected by the quakes.

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