Turkey sentences police officer to 6 years in prison for killing 12-year-old girl

Helin Hasret Şen

A court in Diyarbakır has sentenced police officer Abdullah Ercan to six years, three months in prison over the 2015 killing of 12-year-old Helin Hasret Şen, the Artı Gerçek news website reported on Thursday.

Ercan was convicted on charges of causing a death by gross negligence. Şen had died due to shots fired from an armored vehicle.

Civilian fatalities are common in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, where there is a heavy military presence due to ongoing clashes between the Turkish security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Rights groups and experts have called on security authorities to end the uncontrolled use of armored vehicles in cities and residential areas, saying they are a threat to civilians.

According to Nahit Eren, chair of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, security force members involved in accidents with armored vehicles are seldom punished. “Drivers are rarely sentenced to prison time, while some only receive a fine,” he said. “This causes the drivers of these vehicles to behave recklessly.”

Eren urged parliament’s Human Rights Committee to conduct a thorough investigation into deaths caused by armored vehicles.

According to a report published by the Diyarbakir Bar Association last year, 49 people including 20 children have been killed by armored vehicles in Turkey over the past 10 years.

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