The Van Public Prosecutor’s Office said there were no grounds for legal action against policemen who allegedly mistreated three Kurdish minors in detention in Van province, the Duvar news website reported.
According to lawyer Naci Duman the decision was based on the victims’ failure to identify the policemen who mistreated them. Duman said the three boys were asked to identify the officers long after the incident and were unable to do so.
“We asked for the CCTV recordings from the police station several times, but they refused to release them,” he said. “We also asked for police car camera footage but were not able to obtain it.”
The young boys identified as Ö.S., 14, Ş.Y., 16, and O.D., 17, were detained on February 15, 2019 for possessing harmful substances, resisting the police and affiliation with a terrorist organization. They were beaten during detention and had swelling, bruising and cuts on their bodies. Their injuries were documented in photographs and medical reports.
Several lawyers from the Van Bar Association filed a complaint against the policemen involved in the incident. In the past two years five different prosecutors have taken over the case, and the most recent prosecutor decided there was no need to take the case to court.
Duran said police brutality and mistreatment in detention were covered up in Van because the majority of victims were Kurds.
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 released by main opposition Republican People’s Party deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu in January, 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 had 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.