Statement by Mehmet Tarhan's solicitor -
against brutality he suffered in prison
For public attention:
A court hearing will be held on 8 November 2006, Wednesday, at 9:00 a.m., in the Military Courthouse of Sivas. The case has been brought by conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan due to the inhumane treatment he was subjected to during his time in prison.
On 23.05.2005 we filed a complaint with the public prosecutor about the then Prison Administrator Lieutenant Colonel Erhan Nar and his Deputy Junior Officer Mustafa Selvi, as well as prisoners Ertan Mertoğlu, Ercan Kızılboğa, Ersoy Özbulduk and Hakkı Dinçel for attempted lynching, insults, threats, and theft[ÖA1] . The Office of the Military Prosecutor started a lawsuit on 26.10.2005, with the file number 2006/453, regarding the inhumane treatment of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan. The accused are Erhan Nar, who served as the Prison Administrator during the time and his Deputy Mustafa Selvi, have been charged with “neglect of duty”. The prisoners Ertan Mertoğlu and Hakkı Dinçel, who at the time threaten[ÖA2] Tarhan to obtain money and goods by force are now being charged with extortion. However, the fact that the preparatory investigations lasted for five months suggest that this case will not escape the fate of all the other law cases that have been brought about torture: it will drag on and on. The case has already been open for one year.
Clearly, the prison administration is responsible for the security of prisoners. Therefore, the prison administrators are liable for the attempted lynching of conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan, which he faced on the very day he was put in prison, 11 April 2005, as well as for the insults, threats, and extortion he was subjected to afterwards.
a) The accused were encouraged in their attempted lynching, encouraged by the prison administration.
b) As can be seen in the summary below the accused threatened to kill our client and as a result they obtained money and clothing from him by force. The threat they used was, “We could have killed you on your first day, if we had wanted to. Unless you oblige, we can still kill you.”
In spite of the attempted lynching and our explanations that the prison administration of the time created the conditions to make this attempt possible, the law case has been filed with the charges of looting only. We hope that the truth will be brought to light as a result of the court process and that those responsible for the incidents shall be duly punished as soon as possible, thereby compensating our client for his suffering.
Suna Coşkun, Attorney-in-Law
Below is a brief summary of the incident:
Upon Tarhan’s arrival at the prison, Junior Officer Mustafa Selvi asked him why he was there, and when our client explained that he was a conscientious objector, Mustafa Selvi said in a threatening tone, “Let’s place him in the 2nd ward for the unruly.”
After that our client was taken to a room by Junior Officer Mustafa Selvi and two privates. There he was kept waiting for about ten minutes at the orders of the junior officer. Later on, our client was told he would be placed in the 1st ward, where he was left all alone at the door of the canteen.
When our client Mehmet Tarhan stepped into the 1st ward, it was dark inside so he couldn’t see any faces properly. At that point, some people put a chair in front of the door and ordered him to “sit in the chair.” He sat down without being able to make any sense of what was going on. Then the same people began bombarding him with questions like, “Why are you here? Why do you wear your hair long?” followed by insults and harassment like “Are you a terrorist? Are you a traitor? If so, we’ll kill you.” After that they started hitting him and using threats like “You look like a slut with that hair, so we‘ll make you the slut of this ward” and insults with the “F” word. At the same time, prisoner Ertan Mertoğlu showed him the gun tucked in his belt and said that he was “going to kill him.”
Our client tried to explain himself during this assault, but they didn’t pay any attention to him. When other prisoners intervened they stopped hitting him at the entry of the ward and told our client to go to the other end of the ward and sit down in one of the bunks. A couple of minutes after he sat on a bed, the same prisoners called him with the words, “Long-hair, come here.” The moment our client stood up to go there, a whole group of prisoners attacked him hitting and kicking him, and pulling and pulling out his hair. This assault and beating lasted for about 20 minutes until other prisoners intervened again and took our client to the side of the ward with the bunks.
As a result of this attempted lynching our client had his upper lip and the right part of his lower lip torn, ecchymoses on the right side of his jaw and chin, lower front neck and several places on his torso. Because of the blows he received on the chest he had difficulty breathing, which lasted until 30.04.2005. In addition, he had intense hair loss on the day of the incident because his hair was pulled out, and the loss continued in the following days, with his hair coming out in his hand whenever he touched his head. Also, he had difficulty walking and standing because of how the kicking had affected his right kneecap, legs, and feet.
Once the attempted lynching was over, the light bulbs, which had been loosened on purpose to dim the ward, were screwed back in to light the room.
Afterwards, the same prisoners approached our client on the pretext of apologizing and wanted to talk to him.They said, “It was a misunderstanding, the prison administrator Junior Officer Mustafa Selvi told us that the new arrival was a terrorist, who we would be taking care of” and explained, “that’s the reason for the beating.”
Later, our client was placed in another section of the prison, but whenever he was in association time or went out in the hall to make a phone call, he was subjected to threats by the prisoners Ertan Mertoğlu, Hakkı Dinçel, Ersoy Özbulduk and Ercan Kızılboğa, who went on and on saying, “We could have killed you on your first day, if we wanted to. We can still kill you.”
Our client couldn’t tell anyone about these threats, because his life was at risk, and the prisoners carried on threatening him to obtain money and clothing.
In the association time on 29.04.2005, prisoners Hakkı Dinçel and Ersoy Özbulduk told him that the prisoner Ertan Mertoğlu was demanding a mimimum sum of YTL 500 and if he wouldn’t give this sum, they said “you know what’s going to happen.” Our client said he didn’t have that money and resisted them for about a week, but upon death threats he had to give the money he had kept for his own needs, YTL 300, to prisoner Ercan Kızılboğa so it could be delivered to prisoner Ertan Mertoğlu.
After obtaining the money, they demanded that he get them three black suits on 09.05.2005 and said “either your lawyer or your sister can bring them.” They even forced him to call his sister, Emine Tarhan.
Our client’s sister, Emine Tarhan could afford only two black suits and on 11.05.2005 she sent them to Ertan Mertoğlu via her friend Necmettin Sarı.
Our client could not tell any of this to anyone because he feared for his life, however this all came to light during a meeting of his lawyers with his sister Emine Tarhan. Upon having the incidents confirmed during a meeting with our client on 20.05.2005, we prepared an official document at the military prison giving an account of the incidents.