The Turkish Constitutional Court (AYM) declared that Ahmet Ataman, a Kurdish villager, was subjected to inhumane treatment during detention. The case also implicates Turkish police for the murder of his wife.
This ruling comes amid an ongoing political climate in which Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP, has been threatened with legal action over criticism of similar human rights violations by the country’s security forces against residents of Kurdish provinces.
Ahmet Ataman was arrested during a police raid in the Erciş (Erdîş) district of Turkey’s Kurdish-majority eastern province of Van (Wan) on 17 November 2016. He was later sentenced to 18 years and 4 months in prison on charges of “membership of a terrorist organisation” and “unauthorised possession or transfer of hazardous materials”. Ataman’s wife, Hediye Ataman, died during the police raid.
On the night of the incident, Turkish police and soldiers raided the Ataman’s residence, setting the house on fire. The security forces prevented Hediye from leaving the burning house, and she was killed in the blaze. The Ataman’s lawyers, Esra Akgün and Mahmut Kaçan, revealed that the local prosecutor’s office concluded an investigation into the incident within two weeks, promptly deciding not to follow up on a “violation of the right to life”.
The police were absolved of any fault after the prosecution claimed that a conflict had occurred between ‘organisation members’ and the police. Eyewitness statements contradicted police claims, stating that no members of any so-called “terrorist” organisation were present at the house.
Ahmet Ataman’s 18-year sentence was upheld by the Erzurum Regional Court of Justice. The case then escalated to the Supreme Court, which sentenced Ataman to life imprisonment for ‘undermining the unity and territorial integrity of the state’. The case was finally brought before the AYM for review.
Last year, the AYM finally ruled that Hediye Ataman‘s right to life had indeed been violated. Now the court has ruled that Ahmet Ataman’s rights were also violated, as medical reports indicate signs of physical abuse, including abrasions, contusions, cuts, and swelling, particularly on his head.
Contrary to police claims that Ataman was injured during a firefight, the AYM stated that the medical findings could not be explained by Ataman’s alleged attempt to flee during the police operation. The court noted the absence of convincing evidence, such as documents or witness statements, to explain the injuries.
The AYM criticised the prosecution for ineffective conduct, stating that despite compelling evidence, they had neglected to bring the case to trail. This decision raised concerns about the integrity of the investigation process.
As a result, the AYM concluded that the prohibition of ill-treatment had been violated and ordered compensation to be paid to Ahmet Ataman.