Turkish court acquits inmates in ‘Operation Return to Life’ case

Turkish court acquits inmates in ‘Operation Return to Life’ case

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Turkish court acquits inmates in ‘Operation Return to Life’ case

File Photo

A local Istanbul court has acquitted some 400 suspects, who were inmates involved in a hunger strike and subsequent protest 16 years ago, which ended in dozens of casualties. 

Some 399 inmates were tired with charges of “rioting, possession of explosives and manslaughter,” by the court, which concluded the case on its 98th ruling on Jan. 22. 

During an operation started in December 2000 by security forces to end a hunger strike in Ümraniye Prison, seven prisoners and one soldier lost their lives. 

The 5th Court of Serious Crimes acquitted a total of 367 suspects, whose protest was ended violently by the security forces’ operation. 

The court also closed the case some 32 suspects who have passed away in the meantime.

The military operation, known as “Operation Return to Life” was conducted on December 2000, in 20 prisons across Turkey to end hunger strikes staged by inmates in protest of newly built prisons with solitary confinement cells.

Eight suspects who were pending trial without arrest and their lawyers attended the ruling. On May 26, 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) fined Turkey 54,000 euros for “excessive and disproportionate use of force” by security forces against 18 inmates in an Istanbul prison in 2000 during the same operation.

The former inmates, who were interned at Bayrampaşa Prison, applied to the European court, stating they had started a hunger strike in October 2000 in protest of a severe size reduction of cells. During the operations, 12 prisoners were killed and 50 were injured, some with firearms. 

In a 2012 ruling, the ECHR fined Turkey 20,000 euros for the operation, ruling that the operations violated of the rights to life of the prisoners and that Turkey failed to provide a fair trial subsequently.