Istanbul police batter, torture lawyers at station to see clients 

A group of plainclothes police officers battered and tortured lawyers Bahtiyar Kandeğer and Şehnaz Altunkaya at the Organized Crime Branch of the Istanbul Police Department as they wanted to visit clients. The lawyers incurred injuries and filed a complaint regarding the officers.

Lawyers Bahtiyar Kandeğer (L) and Şehnaz Altunkaya (R) pressed torture and theft charges against the police officers.

Osman Çaklı / Gazete Duvar

Approximately 10 police officers from the Organized Crime Branch of Istanbul Police on June 27 assaulted lawyers Bahtiyar Kandeğer and Şehnaz Altunkaya. 

Kandeğer was bleeding from his ear with multiple injuries on his body after the attack and received a medical report documenting the assault. He filed a complaint against the officers at the Istanbul Courthouse and requested that the prosecutor obtain security camera footage.

Speaking to Gazete Duvar, Kandeğer recounted that he learned at 1 a.m. on June 27 that two of his clients had been detained. Accompanied by colleague Altunkaya, he went to the police station and informed the officers on duty that they wanted to meet with their clients. 

While waiting at the station, Kandeğer learned that one of his clients had been beaten for four hours and that the violence had only ceased upon their arrival.

During the meeting, as his colleague was recording the events, they were attacked by a group of male police officers who tried to forcibly remove them from the station. 

Kandeğer said that he was beaten by four officers in a "blind spot" not covered by cameras, and despite hearing his colleague’s screams, he could not get to her. His colleague was later dragged down the stairs, pinned to the ground, and handcuffed. 

Kandeğer stated that despite knowing they were lawyers, the officers assaulted them and that when they reached out to the prosecutor to file charges, they were dismissed.

According to Kandeğer, the prosecutor told them, "If you’re not dead, give your statement in the morning; otherwise, I’ll come for the autopsy."

Kandeğer, who said he narrowly escaped death, filed a complaint against the officers at Istanbul Çağlayan Courthouse, requesting that they be prosecuted not only for assault but also for aggravated theft, as money was stolen from his colleague’s wallet. He also asked the prosecutor to obtain the security footage to prevent it from being deleted.

In an interview after leaving the courthouse, Kandeğer said, “The prosecutor wrote to the police to obtain the footage. Since the police are involved, the procedure requires the gendarmerie to handle the matter.” 

He continued, “We were unjustly beaten. They tortured us. They hit my head for hours while I was on the ground. My ears were bleeding. We documented the assault.”

Kandeğer added that one of his clients was released while the other’s fate was unknown. “We don’t know if he is alive. His family has no information. We went there to protect their right to defense. Despite there being no restrictions on meetings, we were not allowed to see them.”

Altunkaya, who was also assaulted, said she was tortured, not just beaten. “We were tortured by about ten plainclothes officers we had not even talked to before. They forcibly took my phone. I resisted, and they threw me to the ground and kicked me. They dragged me down from the third floor. They also stole the money from my wallet. They beat me taking turns. I cried for help so much that I can’t speak because of the pain in my throat,” Altunkaya said.

She continued, “They handcuffed me outside the building. My clothes were torn. All the attackers were men. Although I was immobilized, they sat on me, preventing me from moving, and kicked my head and stomach. This was torture, not just a beating.”

(English version by Ayşenaz Toptaş)