Lawyer alleges brutal assault by Istanbul police

A Turkish lawyer in a statement on X has alleged severe police brutality at the Istanbul Police Department’s organized crime unit after attempting to provide legal assistance to his clients.

Bahtiyar Kandeğer reported that at approximately 1 a.m. on Thursday he was subjected to a vicious assault by a group of police officers. “I was beaten nearly to death,” he said, recounting how his head was repeatedly slammed onto the ground during the attack. He described being restrained by two to three officers while around 10 others participated in the beating.

The incident unfolded after Kandeğer and his colleague, lawyer Şehnaz Altunkaya, visited an Istanbul police station to meet with two clients reportedlydetained there. Despite initial assurances that they would be allowed to see their clients, the lawyers were kept waiting and eventually barred from meeting with the detainees. During this period, one client managed to contact Kandeğer, claiming to have been beaten for hours until police learned his lawyer had arrived.

When Kandeğer and Altunkaya attempted to re-enter the police station, tensions escalated. A group of six officers attacked the lawyers. Altunkaya was physically assaulted in front of security cameras and dragged downstairs. Kandeğer’s attempt to intervene led to his own brutal beating, with officers inflicting visible injuries on his face and tearing his ear.

Kandeğer stressed that the attack was unprovoked and targeted them despite their clear identification as lawyers. He alleged that the officers involved seemed confident they would face no consequences for their actions.

When Kandeğer contacted the prosecutor to report the incident, he was told dismissively to return in the morning, indicating a refusal to investigate or document the complaint immediately.

In addition to the physical assault, Altunkaya reported that her phone and some money were stolen during the ordeal.

Human rights groups routinely accuse the Turkish judiciary of granting impunity to law enforcement officers accused of involvement in incidents of disproportionate use of force, misconduct, mistreatment and torture, sometimes despite substantial evidence.

Many say there is no longer a separation of powers in the country and that members of the judiciary are under the control of the government and cannot make judgments based on the law.

Turkey was ranked 117th among 142 countries in the rule of law index published by the World Justice Project (WJP) in October, dropping one rank in comparison to the previous year.

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