Turkish court rules that state was responsible for sick soldier’s death in landmark decision
Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARAIn a landmark decision, an Ankara court has ruled that a private who had lost his life after getting sick during military service in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum should be considered “service-disabled,” thus making it possible for his family to be given a state salary.
The incident involved the case of Önder Gözyuman, who died in 2003 in shortly after he was dispatched to the emergency department of the Çorum State Hospital. Following a health inspection at the hospital, the doctors sent him back to his military unit, the Çorum Gendarmerie Commando Battalion command post, where he died the next morning.
Military prosecutors then launched an investigation into the incident, asking for the Forensic Medicine Institute to issue a report on Gözyuman’s case. The report stated that the private had an illness that could not be determined at the hospital and this illness had led to a brain and pulmonary, which ultimately killed him.
Gözyuman family’s application in 2016 to the authorities, demanding that their child be considered “service-disabled,” was denied by the Social Security Institution. Upon this ruling, the family opened a lawsuit at the Ankara 4th Administrative Court, which ruled in their favor.
“It is the state’s liability to verify that the sickness that happened at the barracks under the control of military units and gave rise to [Göyuman’s] death did not stem from his duties,” the court ruled.
The also court stated that what had killed Gözyuman was not the same illness as what health officials referred to in his health report just before he was recruited to the army. The responsibility therefore belonged to the state.
“In the lawsuits opened demanding that dying soldiers be considered service-disabled, the administrative court previously looked at whether or not the death was ‘induced and affected by the soldier’s duties.’ But with this case the court ruled for a soldier to be considered service-disabled [‘martyred on-duty’] due to an autogenous reason such as an illness. So this is a landmark case,” said the family’s lawyer, İsmail Kılıç, after the ruling.