Ten people detained in Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa following a counter-terrorism operation in the province testified in court on Thursday that they were tortured police custody.
According to a report by the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), nine of the 10 detainees, who were sent to court on Thursday, were released and placed under judicial supervision.
The 10 were part of a group of 47 people arrested during the counter-terrorism operation.
However, Abdullah Ciftci, pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) official, was arrested and sent to prison for “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” through his posts on social media.
Some of the defendants said that because of the torture by police officers they signed statements that did not reflect the truth, the MA reported.
One of the nine detainees who were released by the court, Ruken Deniz, revealed details of the torture that she faced while in police custody in Halfeti district as part of her defense at the court.
Electrocuted and sexually assaulted
“They electrocuted me in the police station and smashed my head on the ground. I can’t feel my hands and feet. My ribs hurt. I’ve been receiving torture for the last couple of days,” she said.
Deniz added that she was also sexually assaulted by the police officers.
When asked why she did not report this to her lawyer while in custody she explained: “I was afraid that I would be sent to prison.”
Mehmet Emin Yildirim, another released detainee, told MA that police officers raided his house around 3 am and detained him along with his four brothers, three nephews, and son.
Stating that he is a cardiac patient with three stent implantations, Yildirim underlined that he had twice before suffered heart attacks.
“They had us lying face down on the ground with our hands handcuffed behind the back at the Yaylak gendarmerie station. They stroke us with the buttstock of their guns and they kicked us while we were on the ground,” Yildirim explained.
His torture marks were noted in a report by the district hospital, where he was taken after the station.
“The traumatic lesions, which exist on his left thigh, are not life-threatening unless a complication develops,” the note in the report said.
Abdullah Yildirim, nephew of Mehmet Emin Yildirim who was also detained as part of the operation told MA that his father, 65-year-old Muslum Yildirim, was also among those tortured at the police station.
Demand for assault report rejected
Lawyers of the tortured defendants demanded that they be sent to Turkey’s Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) to undergo a physical examination and get an assault report.
However, the prosecutor’s office denied the request of the tortured detainees’ attorneys.
The 10 detainees, who testified in court for “aiding and abetting a terrorist group,” were sent to the court with a request that they be released under judicial supervision.
The defendants, including Mehmet Hayri Ciftci and Mustafa Ciftci, described the torture they were subjected to by Turkish police under detention at the gendarmerie station and then in the counter-terrorism unit.
“I was tortured at the gendarmerie station. They stamped on me, I still have marks of that. They clubbed me and they beat me on the soles of my feet and hands. They waterboarded me. All these happened at the gendarmerie station,” Hayri Ciftci said.
He added: “In the police station, they electrocuted me in the genitals while I was blindfolded. They tied my hands and feet and they stamped on me again. I will file a criminal complaint against the authorities.”
According to MA, the court noted that Ciftci had a 10 cm a red mark on his right shoulder.
“What I said at the police station is true. I was tortured in custody,” Mustafa Ciftci told the court.
“They blindfolded me. I don’t know whether they hit me or they used electricity, but my body was in pain below the waist. I was beaten at the gendarmerie station and therefore, my ear aches. I will file a complaint about this,” he elaborated.
The court ruled that there’s no need for judicial supervision, but it imposed travel bans on all 10 of the defendants.
Police raids and detentions in Halfeti and Bozova districts of Sanliurfa were carried out after a police officer was on Saturday killed in a counter-terrorism operation targeting the Peoples’ Defence Forces (HPG) in Halfeti.
The HPG is the armed wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in the mainly Kurdish southeastern part of Turkey since 1984.
Turkish police officers from the Counter Terrorism Unit accused some Sanliurfa residents of supporting the PKK, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by Turkey, in the wake of the operation.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), an independent and international human rights organization, has said that people facing terror charges or blamed for being linked to the July 2016 failed coup attempt in Turkey are at risk of torture in police custody.