Hacı Bişkin / Duvar

A Turkish court has cited “unjust provocation” as the reason for reducing sentences given to six inmates found guilty of killing another inmate.

The court accepted the defendants’ defense that they were “provoked” by victim Ulaş Yurdakul’s behaviors who they said was “displaying maladaptive behaviors at the prison ward, was attacking some other inmates and was cursing.”

The incident concerns the death of the 40-year-old Yurdakul in a prison in the western province of Balıkesir in 2016. Yurdakul was tortured to death by the ward leader and his accomplices. Reports later indicated that the defendants had killed the victim due to his being a Kurd from the southeastern province of Batman.

The case file includes a telephone conversation of one of the suspects during which he confessed the murder to his mother. In the Jan. 3, 2017-dated phone call, the suspect İbrahim Armağan called Yurdakul “a terrorist” because of his ethnicity, according to the case file reports.

The Bursa Regional Courts of Justice initially sentenced six people involved in the murder to aggravated life imprisonment, but later reduced their terms to 24 years.

Yurdakul’s lawyer Hakan Günarslan slammed the court’s ruling, saying official reports had confirmed that the deceased had been tortured. “Ulaş Yurdakul – who was beaten day and night for 8.5 months, who was made to sleep under the stairs and was befuddled with medications – provoked the defendants [as per their defense]. How was that possible?” Günarslan asked.