Euro court fines Turkey 115,000 euros for pecuniary, non-pecuniary damages over armed incident in Tunceli

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Sept. 12 fined Turkey a total of 115,000 euros over an armed incident in 2007 which involved Turkish soldiers killing one man and injuring another in the eastern province of Tunceli.

The ECHR’s ruling came after the family of the killed man, Bülent Karataş, and the injured, Rıza Çiçek, applied to the Strasbourg-based court with complaints that Turkish authorities failed to conduct an effective investigation into the case that involved the soldiers firing several bullets at the two men. 

The cousins Karataş and Çiçek had been shot by the soldiers of a military unit in the late morning of Sept. 27, 2007, near the village of Yenibaş in the province’s Hozat district. 

In the afternoon of the same day, they were taken by gendarmes to a military hospital in the eastern province Elazığ. But Karataş died on the way to hospital. 

The Hozat Public Prosecutor had launched an investigation a day after the incident. Six military personnel, who had taken part in the operation, were questioned by the public prosecutor in early October 2007, where they stated that their unit had been in the area searching for an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant, who, according to a tip-off, transported food supplies and equipment to the group’s hiding places. 

When the soldiers came across the two men, they asked them to stop, before the men disobeyed the stop calls and started running down a hill. The soldiers then fired into the air and repeated their warnings. The soldiers later responded to a fire opened against them from across a riverbed. 

But, according to Çiçek, who was questioned as a “suspect” by the prosecutor on Nov. 6, 2007, he and Karataş, who was a beekeeper, had gone to the area in question on Sept. 27, 2007 to collect a bee colony. Çiçek said he and his cousin were intentionally shot by the soldiers.

In December 2008, an Elazığ military prosecutor, to whom the file had in the meantime been forwarded, subsequently decided to close the investigation and drop criminal proceedings against the soldiers. 

Çiçek and the other applicants filed an objection against the decision, but were rejected by the Malatya Military Court in March 2009. 

On Sept. 12, the ECHR ruled that the Turkish authorities had violated article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life, handing down a fine of 20,000 euros to Turkey in pecuniary damages to be given to Karataş’s family, 65,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages to be given to the families of both Karataş and Çiçek, and 30,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages to be given to Çiçek. 

The court also ruled that the 10 applications made during the case should be given 3,750 euros in compensation altogether for costs and expenses.

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