A Turkish police investigation into an enforced disappearance has been slammed by the Ankara Association for failing to meet basic regulatory requirements.
A report released by the Association states that the investigation into the case of Mustafa Yilmaz, who allegedly became a target of enforced disappearance in February, has been carried out in a way that does not comply with the minimum legal regulations.
Ankara Bar Association Human Rights Center released the report following an application of Sumeyye Yilmaz, the wife of the physical therapist, who has been missing since February 19.
Underlining that Yilmaz’s abduction is one of the six similar cases that took place in February 2019, the association announced that they will take the case to a court.
According to the report, Yilmaz was abducted by being forced to get into a black Transporter Van and taken away on February 19.
“There is strong doubt that Mustafa Yilmaz disappeared under circumstances that threaten his life,” the report emphasized.
He was released pending trial on charges of being a member of FETO, which is the Turkish government’s designation of the Gulen movement as a terrorist organization, it added.
The Gulen group, led by cleric Fethullah Gulen who lives in the US, is blamed by Ankara for orchestrating the failed military coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party government on July 15, 2016.
Although Gulen and his followers deny the allegations, the Turkish government has since detained or arrested nearly 80,000 people, while prosecuting more than 511,000 due to alleged links to the movement, according to the data released by the Interior Ministry.
A number of actions that according to regulations should have been, but were not undertaken by police and the prosecutor during the investigation of Yilmaz’s case, were listed by the Ankara Bar Association in its report.
The police’s failure to check security camera footage in the area where Yilmaz disappeared, is listed among the tasks that they failed to undertake.
It was also indicated that the police failed to do a proper investigation on the vehicle in which Yilmaz was abducted.
The report further said that Sumeyye Yilmaz was shown video footage by the police showing her husband in a metro station in order to convince her that Yilmaz was not abducted by anyone but only went missing.
It was also stressed in the report that the video footage, which was not added to the case file by the police, was not from the same day when Yilmaz was abducted.
Some of the other actions that the investigation lacked according to the report included looking for potential eyewitnesses in the area where Yilmaz was allegedly abducted, taking statements from his family and friends and informing Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) about the case.
“Under these circumstances, it is thought that authorities did not meet their obligations of protecting life and carrying out an effective investigation regarding the abduction of the applicant’s husband Mustafa Yilmaz,” the association concluded.
“Taking into account that abduction is an ongoing violation [of human rights], it is evident that a new investigation must be conducted to make up for the aforementioned deficiencies [of the current investigation],” Ankara Bar Association urged.
The association also requested that the report should be presented to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for further action.
A pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker brought the issue to the Parliament’s agenda on Thursday, saying that six Turkish citizens were abducted in the capital Ankara since February.
MP Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu gave the names of the six people as Gokhan Turkmen, Yasin Ugan, Ozgur Kaya, Erkan Irmak, Salim Zeybek and Mustafa Yilmaz.
“It is thought that they are being severely tortured,” he added.
The deputy highlighted that the Ministry of the Interior had to date not made any statements following his questions regarding the abduction incidents.
“Given this silence [of the government institutions], what comes to mind?” Gergerlioglu said, implying that the abductions were politically-motivated.
“Unfortunately, this is the reality in Turkey. Torture is a crime against humanity. I request authorities from the [ruling] AKP to answer these claims. These are extremely serious cases and the claims are covered up by the Turkish Parliament,” HDP MP claimed.
Speaking in the Parliament on June 26, the International Day to Support victims of torture, Gergerlioglu insisted that Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu should make a statement to answer for the torture allegations in relation the six abducted men.
Referring to Erdogan’s remarks that his country has “zero tolerance toward torture,” the deputy argued that there are wide-spread, systematic and increasing incidents of torture across Turkey.