Suspicions over alleged suicide of 17-year-old in jail grow as recording of his final hours is unretrievable

A DVD containing recordings of the final hours of Kadir Aktar, a 17-year-old boy who allegedly committed suicide in jail, has turned out to be damaged, increasing suspicions surrounding his death, the Evrensel daily reported.

The DVD that contained video footage of the day Aktar died was handed over to a court expert two months after the incident took place. The expert said he was unable to access the footage despite using various computer programs and methods.

It has also been revealed that Aktar was taken to the hospital 23 times during his months in pretrial detention. Aktar’s father, Cengiz Aktar, was able to access his son’s medical records and found that he was taken to the hospital numerous times for assault and for general physical examinations.

Aktar’s parents said they did not believe their son had committed suicide and that the latest revelations confirmed their suspicions. Cengiz Aktar urged the authorities to do everything in their power to investigate and clarify the circumstances behind his son’s death.

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. Aktar’s family was told he had hanged himself and died on February 19.

They have claimed the circumstances surrounding Aktar’s 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 said his son appeared normal the day before and that they had a completely normal conversation.

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.

Aktar’s sister, Inanç Aktar, said her brother had told her about being ill-treated and beaten in prison.

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.

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