European court fines Turkey 331,000 euros in case into killing of five by soldiers
STRASBOURG / ISTANBULThe European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) today found Turkey guilty of violation of right to life in an application regarding the killing of five children by the Turkish military in Southeast Anatolia in 2005, ordering 65,000 euros in compensation to each applicant and a total payment of 5,930 euros for expenses.
The case concerned the killing of the applicants’ five children, aged between 13 and 24, by soldiers in Toptepe village in the southeastern province of Şırnak on Jan. 19, 2005. The investigation conducted by the local authorities upon an application by the victims’ families concluded that Sibel Sartık, 23, Nergiz Özer, 16, Hamdullah Çınar, 21, Zerga Esen, 21, and Zuhal Esen, 13, were “terrorists and members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)” that had opened fire on soldiers and had been killed in an ensuing armed clash.” The victims, all of whom came to Şırnak from western provinces, were allegedly in the area to join the PKK.
In a report prepared on Jan. 27, 2005, based on face-to-face interviews with witnesses and families and an inspection of the scene, the Human Rights Association (İHD) said it had “the opinion that case consisted of the extrajudicial killings of unarmed victims by gendarmerie forces.”
In their application to the ECHR, the families argued that the soldiers’ use of force against their children had been excessive and that the investigation into the incident, “if it had been carried out adequately by, for example, taking swabs for gunpowder residue, would have shown that their children had been unarmed and could not possibly have opened fire on the soldiers.”
In its ruling, the court found Turkey guilty of violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights for the death of the applicants’ children and ineffective investigation conducted on the case.
In a separate case, the ECHR found Turkey guilty of violation of Article 3, which covers ill treatment and ineffective investigation, and ordered Turkey to pay 19,500 euros in non-pecuniary damage and 1,000 euros in costs and expenses to Mustafa Aldemir, 59.
The case concerned his complaint that he was disabled since being wounded by gunfire from soldiers who mistook him for a militant while they were lying in wait during an operation.
A criminal investigation showed that the soldiers lying in wait near the scene of the accident had been informed that a group of militants would be passing by and their lieutenant had wrongly assumed that Aldemir was one of them. The criminal proceedings ended on Dec. 4, 2006, when they were discontinued by a military prosecutor.