As violence at Turkish juvenile prisons has once again hit the agenda, a fresh report based on a prosecutor indictment has revealed that a 15-year-old was beaten to death by inmates at a prison in Istanbul five years ago.
The report, quoted by daily Cumhuriyet on Feb. 27, also implicated the guards over the incident, as they allegedly refused to help the victim as he was being beaten.
Onur Önal was beaten three months after he was put in the Maltepe prison in May 2014 in a ward where sexual crimes convicts were kept. An Istanbul prosecutor’s file said the victim was taken to the hospital one day after the incident.
An official report by the prison management to the prosecutor said Önal fainted in the worship room of the prison and was taken to the hospital. The hospital report read he had spasms and lost consciousness. After an operation, he was taken into intensive care.
However, testimonies in the prosecutor’s file contradicted reports that said Önal had only fallen down.
An inmate, identified by the initials R.Ü., said he saw another inmate, identified as M.Ö., beating Önal in the prayer room, in a spot not covered by surveillance cameras.
“I saw M.Ö. hitting Onur’s head on the wall there. He was holding Onur’s head with two hands and hitting him against the wall. There were traces of his hair on the wall. No sounds were heard from Onur. Later I learned that [another inmate identified as] C.B. also hit him,” R.Ü. said.
Another witness who testified, B.P., said the other inmates had informed him that Önal was being beaten and asked B.P. to save him.
“The officer was reading a book in the camera room. I told him about it. M.Ö. was beating Onur where the cameras could not see, but he [the guard] was shouting and swearing,” B.P. said.
B.P. said that C.B. was performing his daily prayer there, but then stopped halfway through and attacked Önal.
“I broke the fight up. Onur sat on a chair. He fainted and fell off of the chair. Then the ward official came. M.Ö. threatened us to say that Onur had fallen off the chair,” he added.
B.P. also said M.Ö. was harassing others in the ward.
The two inmates who beat Önal were taken to solitary confinement on Sept. 4, 2014, as confirmed by prison reports.
The report comes after the Radikal website reported earlier this week that an internal notice by officials at a juvenile prison in the town of Aliağa in the Aegean province of İzmir revealed that child inmates were torturing each other, while rape and other sexual crimes were regular occurrences at the prison.
Much of the torture was committed by the older and stronger children, according to the document also signed by Şakran Prison’s head Hamit Karslıoğlu, according to Radikal.
Prison guardians are poorly audited, exceeding their authority and misusing power, the report claimed, also adding that they often provided children with equipment that should not be accessible to inmates.