Jail time sought for gang forcing Syrian kids into begging

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Turkish prosecutors have demanded up to 80 years in prison for 27 suspects who took Syrian children from their families on the pretext of work in Turkey and forced them to beg in Istanbul’s streets.

An indictment prepared against the defendants, four of whom are fugitives and one of which is under arrest, was approved by a chief prosecutor’s office and referred to a court in Istanbul.

A lawsuit was filed against the suspects for the crimes of deprivation of liberty, human trafficking, establishing and leading a criminal organization, being a member of a criminal organization and begging.

The suspects took Syrian children from their families on the pretext of employing them in Turkey and forced them to beg by bringing them to the country illegally, according to the case file.

The indictment also includes blood-chilling details about 44 children who were forced to beg in the streets.

A 12-year-old child from Syria’s Aleppo, identified only by initials A.Z., stated in his testimony that he was hit by a car and this leg was broken, but a gang member abducted him from the hospital before the police arrived.

Explaining that he was forced into begging after the hospital, A.Z. said that he was beaten by the gang members when he brought in less than 100 Turkish Liras ($12.30) a day.

Another 12-year-old child from Aleppo, identified only by the initials M.H., who was bought from his family for 10,000 Syrian Pounds ($20) and brought to Istanbul said in his testimony that he was sold to another gang leader for 5,000 Turkish Liras ($630) for six months after he came to Istanbul.

The boy explained that he received 2 Turkish Liras ($0.25) from a gang member every day and asked for money from the vehicles standing at the red lights until midnight in Zeytinburnu, a busy neighborhood in Istanbul.

The boy, who said that he was beaten with a hose when he could not collect enough money, said that one day he was rescued by a Turkish woman in her 20s named Nurcan and that was when the police took him.

Hurriyet Daily News

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