Turkish court releases police officer who killed 6 and 7 year-old Yıldırım brothers in 1st hearing

A Turkish court has released a police officer who drove an armored vehicle as patrolling in Karşıyaka neighborhood in southeastern province Şırnak’s Silopi district and crashed into a home on early May and killed 7 and 6 year-old brothers, during his first hearing.

2nd High Criminal Court in Cizre district of Şırnak province has released police officer Ömer Yeğit who has been pre-trial detention since he killed Muhammed Yıldırım (7) and his 6-year-old brother Furkan Yıldırım as they were sleeping at home during the tragedic incident at the midnight.

During his defence before the court Yeğit has claimed that he has no licence for driving armoured vehicle and stated that “There were three armoured vehicles but there were only two police officer who have licence. I was assigned to third armoured vehicle by police chief’s oral order. I had registered to a course but the incident occurred before I could got a certificate.”

“There should be at least 2 police officers but I was alone during the patrol. I was obliged to drive the vehicle despite I have no licence. So, the responsibility is belong to the police chief and the authorities. Following the incident a licensed personnel  was assigned. Why did they do the same before the incident? I have no mistake in regard of the incident. I tried to help. Because of the news about the incident my psychology has been spoiled,” said Yeğit.

Yeğit’s superior, Murat Maden, who stood trial without arrest, said in his defense that he could not know in advance if the person assigned to use the armored vehicle was licensed to drive it or not.

The hearing was also observed by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Şırnak Deputy Leyla Birlik, Bar President of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır Ahmet Özmen, and Şırnak Bar President Nuşirevan Elçi as well as the killed boys’ family members.

Elçi briefly took the floor during the hearing. “It is in itself a mistake for the vehicle to be driven by one person. The suspect should stand trial on probable intent. We demand the continuation of his detention,” he said.

Diyarbakır Bar President Ahmet Özmen indicated during the hearing that the suspect should not be on trial for “causing more than one person’s death recklessly,” but instead for “premeditated murder,” as is the case in accidents involving unlicensed people.

After deciding on Yeğit’s release, the court ordered that a scout be undertaken at the scene of the incident on Nov. 22, and adjourned the case.

It was claimed that an armored vehicle driven by allegedly drunk policemen patrolling in Karşıyaka neighborhood in southeastern province Şırnak’s Silopi district crashed into a home on the night of May 3 and killed 7 and 6 year-old brothers. After the incident, instead of helping injured children the policemen had allegedly left the armored vehicle at the scene and fled.

The incident had been followed by police inspection at spot, and quarrel erupted between police and neighborhood residents who responded to the police for the incident. While police assaulted three people during the following brawl, eyewitnesses claimed that the policemen who drove the armored vehicle into the house and then fled were drunk.

Residents rushed the two kids to Silopi Public Hospital where both of them lost their lives despite all the medical efforts. The brothers were buried at Karşıyaka Cemetery. Şırnak Governor Ali İhsan Su had described the murder as “destiny” during his visit for condolence.

An old woman named Pakize Hazar had also lost her life when she was hit by an armored vehicle used by Turkish security forces as she was trying to cross a street in Lice district of Diyarbakır province on June 14. It was reported that the armored vehicle left the area after the fatal incident while the old woman’s body was taken to Halis Toprak Hospital in Lice for the autopsy.

The armored vehicles used by Turkish police or soldiers have frequently killed citizens in Kurdish dominated Southeastern Turkey. It was reported that a Cobra type armored vehicle had hit 71-years-old Naciye Özdemir as she was trying to cross the road in Seyit Rıza Square in Tunceli city center, killing the old woman on Sept. 6, 2016.

Seven years-old Berfin Dilek was also hit and killed by an armored police vehicle on her way home from school in Dargeçit district of Mardin province on Feb. 9, 2017

A fifty-five years-old woman, named Hatun Elhuman, was hit and killed by a military armored vehicle on Gevran Avenue in Diyarbakır city center on April 27, 2017.

Also 2 people were hit by an armored police vehicle and Sami Uçan lost his life in the hospital in Van province on April 28, 2017. In the same province, 7 people were also injured by armored vehicles in the following week.

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