Family members of the Corlu train accident victims, as well as their lawyers, were reportedly subjected to a beating by police officers ahead of the first day of the trial into the deadly train accident.
The Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Wednesday that incident took place as first hearing of the trial for the Corlu train derailment case started at the Corlu 1st Heavy Penal Court on Wednesday.
Turkish media reported the attack happened, according to the claims of some of the victims’ families and their lawyers, outside the courtroom as they protested against not being allowed to follow the hearing inside because the courtroom was too small.
Twenty-five people, including seven children, were killed and more than 300 people were injured in a train derailment in Corlu district of Turkey’s northwestern province of Tekirdag on July 8, 2018.
It was alleged that some family members and lawyers were beaten by police officers with batons after applauding as a sign of protest and chanting the slogan “This is not an accident but murder.”
According to the report by Serkan Alan from Gazete Duvar, family members were then able to get in the courtroom and follow the hearing.
Lawyer Can Atalay stated that he saw some lawyers and family members being beaten by people who were dressed in civilian and formal clothes.
“Our children died and still we are the ones who get a beating,” Atalay said, also indicating that it is unlawful for police officers to be present inside the courtroom while carrying guns.
Two police officers with guns were then made to leave the courtroom upon the objections of the lawyers.
Mursel Under, another lawyer representing a victim’s family member, said that he and some others will file a complaint against the police officers who battered them.
“I was battered. If someone would faint here, it would be because of you. I was kicked by police, we were kicked, and we’ll file a complaint,” he said during the hearing on Wednesday.
Soon after the start of the hearing, the court withdrew from the case and sent the file for evaluation to the upper court, the Corlu 2nd Heavy Penal Court, over the claims that “the relatives of the deceased were battered upon the instruction of the court.”
Families who have waited for a year for the trial to began reacted to the decision of the court.
“Is this what we have been waiting for during the whole year? I’m not standing up. I won’t leave here,” said Misra Oz Sel, a mother who lost her nine-year-old son Oguz Arda Sel in the accident.
Accusing Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu for the severe police intervention to lawyers and family members, lawyer Atalay promised that those responsible for the beating will be held accountable.
“Who gave this order? From whom the Corlu police take this power to act without measure? The justice minister who have lawyers beaten at the door of a courtroom, we’ll have a talk with you. The interior minister who interferes everything. Suleyman Soylu, you had families beaten,” Atalay said.
“If it is needed, if you do not let this people into the palace of justice [courtroom], they will rip justice out of you with their bare hands,” he vowed after the hearing.
The indictment about the train derailment charges four employees of the Turkish State Railways (TCDD), namely Turgut Kurt, Ozkan Polat, Cetin Yildirim and Celaleddin Cabuk with “reckless killing and injury.”
The families have demanded a trial for train drivers Halil Altinkaya and Suat Sahin, train chief Huseyin Kahraman, the suspected senior executives of the TCDD and politicians and bureaucrats, for whom the prosecutor’s office previously gave a verdict of non-prosecution on the ground of lack of evidence.
On June 12, police officers used rubber bullets to disperse the families who were making a press statement in front of the Constitutional Court (AYM) in order to protest the decision given by the Corlu Chief Public Prosecutor Murat Yigiter.