A Turkish court on Tuesday acquitted the police officer responsible for an armoured vehicle collision that resulted in the death of Kurdish boy Miraç Miroğlu (7) in the Kurdish-majority city of Şırnak (Şirnex) on 3 September 2021.
While the boy’s father Salih Miroğlu demanded punishment for the accused police officer, the defence presented a Forensic Medicine Institute report, which asserted that the vehicle was moving slowly, though without specifying its speed. The report concluded that Miraç Miroğlu, a Kurdish child, was at fault in the tragic collision, while Metin Kiraz, the accused police officer, was absolved of any blame.
The defendant police officer requested his acquittal in light of the report, a request that faced opposition from lawyers representing the Şırnak Bar Association on behalf of the public. The lawyers argued that it violated the principle of equality of arms, a concept created by the European Court of Human Rights in the context of the right to a fair trial, requiring a fair balance between the opportunities afforded the parties involved in litigation. The lawyers suggested that the defendant’s access to the supportive report from the Forensic Medicine Institute may have created an imbalance in the legal process.
Despite the lawyers’ objections, the court ultimately acquitted the defendant police officer, prompting the lawyers to express their intention to appeal this decision at the Regional Court of Justice.
Father Salih Miroğlu reacted with frustration to the acquittal of the accused police officer, saying, “We will keep appealing to the end” to get the defendant police officer punished.
“The lawyer for the defendant police officer said, ‘Miraç was hit by the vehicle as he entered the main road’. But everyone knows that Miraç was hit by a vehicle in the street outside his house. There is footage of the incident, and the whole neighbourhood is witness. I do not accept this decision. We will object to it to the end. We are not interested in compensation; our sole aim is for the perpetrator to be punished most severely. Where is justice? If there were justice, this decision would not have been made,” said the father, adding “If I had caused a traffic accident, hit a child and the family sued, I would receive more than 20 years in prison. This is unacceptable. If I, or any citizen, had hit a police officer, they would receive a life sentence. This decision invites similar incidents. It means that if a police officer in another city, neighbourhood or street hits a child, they are likely to be acquitted. They will be emboldened by these acquittal decisions.”
This case has garnered significant attention, given the broader context of deaths caused by armoured vehicles in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority provinces.