The family of Kadir Aktar, a 17-year-old boy who allegedly committed suicide in police custody last Friday, has requested an investigation into the circumstances of his death, the Evrensel Daily reported.
Aktar’s family was told he hanged himself, but they claim the circumstances surrounding his death were suspicious. “Although he allegedly committed suicide at 5 p.m., they only told us about his death at 9, and we want to know what happened during those four hours,” said lawyer Ahmet Atalay.
Aktar’s father, Cengiz Aktar, said his son appeared normal the day before and they had a completely normal conversation.
Aktar was arrested last year for an incident in İstanbul involving the death of a policeman. He was released on February 16 but was detained the same night on unspecified charges. According to Atalay there were indications that Aktar had been beaten in custody. “I saw him shortly after he was detained. He had a black eye and other bruises. Kadir told me himself that he was mistreated,” he said.
Atalay said that according to a police report Aktar had resisted arrest, which is why the police had to use force against him. But according to his family, Aktar went quietly with the police and there was no struggle.
“I want to know what happened to my son because I know he was not suicidal,” said Cengiz Aktar.
Turkey has experienced a marked resurgence of torture and ill-treatment in custody over the past five years, and especially since a coup attempt in July 2016. Lack of condemnation from higher officials and a readiness to cover up allegations rather than investigate them have resulted in widespread impunity for the security forces.
According to a report by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is also a prominent human rights activist and deputy chair of the Human Rights Committee in parliament, a total of 27,493 people were victims of torture and maltreatment between 2002, when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, and 2020 and that 86 others died from such mistreatment.
While 988 cases of torture or maltreatment were reported in 2002, this figure rose to 3,534 in 2020, the report stated.