Top court orders state to pay compensation to inmate for not analyzing video footage in arm-breaking case

Turkey's Constitutional Court has ruled that the rights of an inmate had been violated on two grounds, and ordered the state to pay 70,000 liras in compensation to him. Firstly, Gökhan Gündüz's arm was broken by prison guards for staging a sit-in protest, and secondly, the prosecutor's office did not analyze the security video footage from the day of the incident, failing to conduct “an effective investigation,” said the top court.

Duvar English

A video recorded inside a Turkish jail has shown guards breaking the arm of an inmate, in contrary to guards' claim that the inmate himself “has broken his arm by throwing himself on the floor,” ANKA news agency reported on Jan. 9.

The incident concerns the application of Gökhan Gündüz at the Constitutional Court.

Imprisoned in the Kırıkkale F Type High-Security Prison in Turkey's Central Anatolia, Gündüz initiated a peaceful sit-in demonstration on May 25, 2017, in protest of some unlawful implementations in the jail.

Gündüz however in return faced violence from prisoner guards, who violently pushed him to the ground and twisted his arm. Despite the broken arm, prisoner guards are seen in the security video dragging Gündüz.

An administration investigation was launched into five guards, but after their testimony that “the inmate threw himself on the floor on purpose, which broke the arm,” they were cleared off all charges.

On top of that, Gündüz was deprived of sending or receiving letters for singing an anthem. Also, authorities placed three of his friends in a cell and banned them from accepting visitors for a while for participating in the same sit-in protest.

Gündüz's case was later taken to the Kırıkkale Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, which ruled for the charges against the prisoner guards to be dropped. As Gündüz's appeal against the prosecutors' ruling was turned down, this time he took his case to the Constitutional Court.

The top court deemed the guards' action as “torture” and ruled for a re-investigation of the case. Accordingly, it also ordered the state to pay Gündüz 70,000 liras in compensation.

The top court pointed out that the Kırıkkale Chief Public Prosecutor's Office failed to “run an effective investigation” into the incident, as it even did not analyze the security video footage from the day of the incident.

“The public prosecutor has not asked for the video footage in the investigation and has not determined whether the prison guards' statements were in line with the video recordings or not,” the top court said.

It said that as the authorities have not “enlightened how the injury occurred,” Gündüz's rights were violated.

As a result of the re-investigation of the case, the security footage has come out to light and this time was put in Gündüz's file.