Turkish prosecutor indicts 14 suspects for manslaughter in landmark case on migrant deaths
Musa Kesler - BODRUM
A fisherman had notified Turkish Coast Guard after he heard "children noise" on the sea at midnight off Turkey's Bodrum on Sept. 17, triggering a 1.5-hour-long operation in which 15 migrants, including children, were rescued
A Turkish prosecutor has indicted 14 suspects, including a hotel owner, over manslaughter following the death of three migrants in a botched attempt to cross the Aegean.
Turkish Coast Guard teams had rescued 15 migrants and recovered the bodies of three others on Sept. 17 after a boat carrying them capsized off the coast of Bodrum in the southwestern Muğla province while on the way to the Greek island of Kos.
The Bodrum Chief Prosecutor’s Office presented the indictment to the court this week, launching a landmark legal case in which all linked to the deadly human smuggling operation are put on trial.
The sunken boat’s owner, Mücahit Tunc; its operators, Adnan Bayruğ and Fırat Yorulmaz; its captain, Hasan Mohannad; its repair chief, Nihat Tiper; and repairmen Erol Bilgiç and Özhan Tekin; the ring’s field operators, Haval Radha Salih, Barış Gedikli, Dursun Anıl Aksu, Ahmet Onur Üremiş, Ahmet Abdullah Şah and Evren Şimşek; as well as the owner of the hotel where the migrants stayed, Esra Mamaker, are the suspects in the case.
The prosecutor charged all 14 suspects with “voluntary manslaughter with eventual intent” and demanded them to be sentenced to life in prison three times for the three deaths.
According to the indictment, the suspects knew that the boat, which could carry seven people, was leaking but still filled it with 18 migrants after a slapdash repair.
“They all knew that the boat could sink, leading to deaths of migrants, but they ignored it and they committed the crime of voluntary manslaughter with eventual intent,” it added.
One of the victims, who were all transported to the boat on the shore with luxurious VIP vans, had told the police that they had sailed only 100 meters when the captain jumped into the sea without telling anything to the migrants after speaking on the phone with someone.
The surprised migrants, including 15 Iraqi nationals and a Syrian, had soon found themselves in the sea. While 15 of them were rescued by Turkish Coast Guard with an operation that took more than an hour, two women’s bodies were found floating on the sea and another one’s stuck inside the sunken boat deep in the water.
Turkey has been a main route for migrants trying to cross into Europe, especially since 2011, when the Syrian civil war began.