Turkish prosecutor who approved torture chambers at unauthorized site identified: report

Torture chambers set up at an unofficial detention site in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara that were the subject of a Council of Europe (CoE) report in 2016 censored by Turkey were approved with the directives of investigating prosecutor Mustafa Manga, judicial papers obtained by Nordic Monitor have revealed.

Manga’s name was revealed during court testimony provided by a gendarme who was subjected to torture and ill-treatment for days when he refused to sign a false statement under coercion by Manga. Frustrated with a lack of evidence, Manga personally ordered his bodyguards to point a gun at 1st Sgt. Fatih Karabağ, a 29-year-old intelligence officer who had investigated radical jihadist groups including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to force him to agree to the false statement in order to build a case the way he wanted. When threats in his office failed to convince the sergeant, Manga sent him to the torture site with special instructions to make him to talk and give a statement in line with the story line the prosecutor came up with.

“’I’m detaining you for 30 days. You will talk at the TEM [police counterterrorism building], anyway,’ he [Manga] said. Then he called a person whom I believe was a police chief in the TEM and said: ‘I’m sending you a person named Fatih Karabağ. Make him talk and keep him in custody for 30 days.’ So the police kicked me and punched me out of the room,” Karabağ told the court during a trial in which he was accused of involvement in a July 15, 2016 coup attempt. He denied the accusations and said he was ordered to go to the Gendarmerie General Command headquarters to provide security against a possible terrorist threat.

The meeting of Manga and the victim took place in a room at Gendarmerie General Command headquarters where Manga set up a temporary office to investigate events at the building during a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. When Karabağ was brought to Manga’s office in handcuffs, the prosecutor ordered everyone to get out of the room except his two guards and his clerk, Erkan Ildemli.

“The prosecutor showed me photos [from clashes on the night of the coup attempt] and started shouting, ‘You did this.’ I said, ‘Mr. Prosecutor, I didn’t kill anyone,’ and I told the prosecutor about what I had been through exactly the way it happened. Then he started shouting more. He put me in the chair across from his desk. Your Honor, the clerk was to the right of the prosecutor, and a bearded, dark-skinned policeman, some 25 or 30 years old holding an MP5 with two magazines taped to each other was on his left. In the chair next to me, a grey-haired, light bearded, 30 to 40-year-old police officer holding a Kalashnikov was sitting,” he said.

Manga yelled at him again and asked him to talk about what he had experienced once more. When Karabağ repeated what he had already told him before, the prosecutor angrily intervened and said, “Not that.” He shouted at Karabağ and said he was getting bored. Then the prosecutor ordered his guards to make their guns ready to shoot him upon his order. “The police took off the safeties, the younger cop took aim at me with the MP5, Your Honor. The other cop put the barrel of the Kalashnikov in my abdominal area, waiting for orders from the prosecutor to shoot,” Karabağ testified as he portrayed the dramatic scene at the prosecutor’s makeshift office in the military building.

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