Appeals court upholds light sentence given to police officer who killed 2 children with armored vehicle

A regional appeals court upheld a light prison sentence given to a police officer convicted of killing two children with an armored police vehicle three years ago in the southeastern Turkish city of Silopi, the Mesopotamia Agency reported.

In June 2019 Ömer Yeğit, the police officer who operated the vehicle, was sentenced to two years, one month’s imprisonment for causing death due to negligence, which was converted into a fine of TL19,000 ($2,400). His supervisor Murat Maden, on the other hand, was acquitted by the court. The appeals court upheld the sentences in both cases.

An armored police vehicle operated by Yeğit went out of control and crashed into a house in May 2017 in the Silopi district of Şırnak province. Six-year-old Furkan and 7-year-old Muhammed Yıldırım were crushed to death in their sleep.

The crime scene investigation report revealed that the armored vehicle did not have a handbrake and that Yeğit could not have done anything to stop the vehicle before the crash. The report found the armored vehicle as the “primary negligent party” and Yeğit as the “accessory.” The fact that Yeğit did not have a certificate to operate the armored vehicle was not considered by the court in its reasoned verdict as he was argued to have had adequate experience.

Lawyers for the Yıldırım family appealed the verdict at the Gaziantep Regional Appeals Court. The 16th criminal chamber of the court rejected the appeal and upheld the verdict of the lower court on grounds that “the conscientious opinion is based on absolutely consistent and nonconflicting evidence.” Therefore, the appeal of the family’s lawyers for the punishment of the defendant Yeğit on the charge of “possible deliberate murder” was also rejected.

Rojhat Dilsiz, one of the Yıldırım family lawyers, said that in criminal cases where law enforcement personnel are the defendants, the cases result in no punishment.

Nesime Yıldırım, the mother of the two brothers, told Mesopotamia: “We do not accept the decision, but unfortunately we cannot do anything. We tried hard to punish the murderers of our children, but the verdict is embarrassing. These people had to be punished.”

Grandmother Ayşe Yıldırım said the children were murdered in their sleep and that the murderer was sent home. “They are not punished because we are Kurds. A lot of incidents like this have happened, but in which one has justice been served? They are protected because we are Kurds and those who do this are Turks.”

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