17-year-old Afghan refugee beaten to death by police in second Festus Okey-gate
İsmail Saymaz VAN - Radikal
The beating took place as the group of children was taken for a medical check-up for communicable diseases and to determine their age at the police deportation center in Van.A 17-year-old Afghan refugee has died after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage following a police beating in the southeastern province of Van, in circumstances reminiscent of the killing of the Nigerian refugee Festus Okey at a police post in Istanbul.
The Afghan teenager Lutfullah Tajik was detained on May 16 along with other 20 Afghan refugees in a gendarmerie operation against human trafficking networks.
Seven minors, including Tajik, were taken to the Children and Youth Center (ÇOGEM) in Van, where they were told to stay until their deportation. The next day, the group of children was taken for a medical check-up for communicable diseases and to determine their age at the police deportation center in the city.
According to witnesses, a police officer from the foreigners department, identified only as S.O., violently beat Tajik after accusing him of lying about his age.
Witnesses said Tajik was taken to the hospital immediately after the beating, adding “white fluids came out of his mouth.”
He died on May 31 despite a medical intervention. The autopsy revealed that Tajik suffered several bruises and scars on his scalp up to two centimeters, edematous bleeding and a cerebral hemorrhage.
According to the information delivered by lawyer Mahmut Kaçan, Van Prosecution Office explained Tajik’s death as a result of a “cerebral hemorrhage,” adding that he had leukemia.
Witnesses risk deportation
Meanwhile, police officials have claimed that the cameras at the police post experienced technical issues and broke down, as has often previously been the case when such police abuse has occurred.
Lawyer Kaçan stressed that all six Afghan refugees who identified officer S.O. are facing deportation. “If that happens, all of the witnesses that we have will be cleared off,” Kaçan said.
Prosecutors of the case told Radikal that the investigation was ongoing, while Amnesty International has said it is preparing to contact state institutions over Tajik’s killing.
The revelation of a new police killing involving a refugee comes ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20 and only two weeks after a controversial verdict over the killing of Festus Okey was upheld by a court.
Okey was detained in 2007 for not carrying identification and died from a wound that was caused by a police officer’s bullet at a police post in the central neighborhood of Beyoğlu.
The officer was sentenced to four years in prison for “involuntary manslaughter” in a trial during which judges refused to accept the victim’s family as plaintiffs.
The ruling triggered outcry among human rights associations, who slammed the court for protecting the police.