Officer accused of mistreating detainee by Turkey’s top court is appointed chief of police

Kenan Şaban Süzgün

Kenan Şaban Süzgün, a police officer found by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to have mistreated Aydın Aydoğan during his detention in 2017, has been appointed chief of police in the central Turkish province of Yozgat, local media reported.

Aydoğan, who was injured by a gas canister fired by police during the Gezi Park protests in 2013, was detained after filing a criminal complaint against Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan in 2017. After his detention, Aydoğan claimed he was mistreated by a group of police officers, including Süzgün, during his time in custody. The court ruled that the police violated the “prohibition of ill-treatment” in Aydoğan’s case.

The Gezi Park protests began in 2013 over government plans to demolish Gezi Park in Taksim. They quickly developed into mass anti-government demonstrations that were violently suppressed by the government, resulting in the death of 11 protesters due to the use of disproportionate force by police.

According to his testimony, Aydoğan was handcuffed from behind during his detention at the police station. In pain due to injuries he had sustained during the Gezi Park protests, Aydoğan asked the officers to loosen the handcuffs, but was refused. In addition, he was not given water, not allowed to go to the toilet and could not call his family to inform them about his detention.

Aydoğan said a group of police officers, including Süzgün, beat him severely in the evening of his first day at the detention center. Aydoğan said he suffered severe blows to his back, abdomen and groin and that his tooth was broken by a blow to his chin. He said the police officers threatened to harm his family and demanded he withdraw his complaint against Erdoğan.

He was taken to the hospital after spending the night in custody, but the resulting report said he had suffered “no physical harm” during his detention.

Aydoğan then obtained a medical report from the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) and filed a criminal complaint against the responsible police officers. However, the file was closed by a local court in İstanbul. Aydoğan later turned to the Constitutional Court because of the rights violations to which he had been subjected.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the police officers, including Süzgün, had mistreated Aydoğan, that the case, which had not been prosecuted, should be reopened, and that Aydoğan should be paid compensation in the amount of TL 45,000 ($2,400).

Other police officers who mistreated Aydoğan and allegedly many others are also still working as police officers.

After an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016, ill-treatment and torture became widespread and systematic in Turkish detention centers. 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.

An annual report by Amnesty International on the state of human rights in the world has revealed that serious and credible allegations of torture and other ill-treatment were made in Turkey last year.

According to a report drafted by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu, there were 2,694 deaths and 3,145 incidents of torture or maltreatment in 2021, with 925 of them taking place in prisons.

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