Right to life violated in infant’s death, top court says

Right to life violated in infant’s death, top court says

DİYARBAKIR – Doğan News Agency
Right to life violated in infant’s death, top court says

DHA photo

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled the right to life was breached in the death of a one-and-a-half year old boy who was hit by a tear gas canister on the balcony of his house in the Cizre district of southeastern Şırnak province seven years ago.

The decision for infant Mehmet Uytun came five-and-a-half years after his case was brought to the Constitutional Court by Uytun’s family after they could not get a result from their appeals to the Cizre District Chief Prosecutor’s Office and Diyarbakır Regional Administrative Court.

Uytun was hit in the head by a tear gas canister in October 2009 while he was on his mother’s lap at their home, during a police intervention into a demonstration in Cizre. Uytun died in hospital after staying in an intensive care unit for 10 days.

In a probe launched soon after the infant’s death, the Cizre Chief Prosecutor’s Office demanded an investigation permit from the district governor’s office over the role of soldier H.A. in firing the tear gas. The governor’s office, however, rejected the prosecutor’s demand at the time.

The family then appealed to the Diyarbakır Regional Administrative Court, where they also failed to get any result in terms of a trial of soldiers or authorities over the incident. 

The family later brought the case to the Constitutional Court as an individual appeal.

The top court said in its ruling that the testimonies of the victim’s family members and the suspects in the case were not taken in the required time period, with some officers giving their testimonies four months after the incident took place. 

“Evidence collection actions such as a crime scene investigation, examination and autopsy of the deceased were done as soon as possible, while some other critical investigation actions took place much later,” the top court said in its ruling.

The testimonies of Uytun’s parents were taken 20 days after the incident, while the testimony of the suspect was taken 25 days later. Other officers gave their testimonies four months after the incident happened. The definitive cause of death report was given some 18 months after the death of Uytun, while the doctor who examined the body gave testimony some two years after the incident, the court also recalled.