Greenpeace member judge acquits leopard killers in Turkey
Shepherds Kasım Kaplan and his cousin were on trial for shooting and killing a leopard in the Çınar district of Diyarbakır province in 2013.A judge, who is also a member of Greenpeace, has acquitted two shepherds for killing a leopard in southeast Turkey, on the grounds they had killed the animal in self-defense.
Shepherds Kasım Kaplan and his cousin, Mahmut Kaplan, were on trial for shooting and killing a leopard in the Çınar district of Diyarbakır province in 2013.
The prosecutor had asked the court to sentence the men to five years in jail for killing a species which faces the threat of extinction.
However, Ömer Aykut Özdoğan, the judge of the Penal Court of First Instance in Diyarbakır, issued the detailed ruling on the case March 11, concluding the two shepherds killed the leopard in self-defense.
According to witnesses, the leopard had attacked Kasım Kaplan from behind before his cousin shot it dead with a hunting rifle to save him. Kaplan was slightly injured during the incident.
“It is clear that the suspects had no information about how they could neutralize a leopard that attacked them without killing it, as they had never seen this species before,” the judge said.
After the killing of the same species in the eastern province of Siirt in 2010, this was the second time a leopard was observed in Turkey in recent memory. Experts think that both “wandering” animals could have come from their natural habitat in Iran.
“The fact that old bullets were found in the leopard’s body shows it was attacked by humans in the past. It could have attacked the shepherds as a result of this past experience,” the judge added in the ruling