Court frees police officer who drove armored car over civilian

A Turkish court has released a riot policeman who is accused of killing a 33-year-old civil engineer in the country’s southeastern Diyarbakir province, the Mezopotamya Agency (MA) reported on Tuesday.

Cihan Can died on December 27 after being hit by an armored bus in front of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) provincial building in the Baglar district, around which the riot police have been blockading for over a year.

Following the incident, a prosecutor requested the arrest of the police officer identified with the initials H.A, who was allegedly driving the armored bus that crushed Can, on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

However, a local court in Diyarbakir on Tuesday released H.A under judicial supervision after he stated that he did not see Can coming due to the rain blocking his view and thought that he was running over some firewood used in a bakery nearby.

Fuat Cosacak, a lawyer representing Cihan Can’s family, reportedly described the local court’s decision in the case as “reckless and unlawful.”

“Our only expectation is this investigation to be conducted transparently. Otherwise, a verdict might serve as [a legal] approval for killing someone by running them over,” the lawyer underlined.

Referring to similar incidents in southeastern Turkey, Cosacak added that tens of such incidents took place in Hakkari, Van, and Batman provinces.

“The fact that political power and judicial authorities overlook these cases and allow police officers who kill people to walk free remains,” Cosacak said.

It is common in Turkey’s southeast for civilians to be killed by armored military vehicles because of a heavy military presence in the region due to clashes between the Turkish army and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

An armed group regarded as a terrorist organization by the Turkish state, the PKK has been fighting for self-rule in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of the country since 1984.

According to a recent report by the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD)’s Diyarbakir branch, there have been at least 63 incidents of armored vehicle accidents in Turkey in the past ten years.

A total of 36 citizens, including 16 children and six women, have lost been killed in those incidents while 85 more people were injured.

Cosacak called on press outlets, bar associations, and human rights advocates in Turkey to follow Can’s case so that “the perpetrator of an armored vehicle killing cannot go unpunished this time.”

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