A Turkish court has found that the Interior Ministry was 90 percent responsible for the death of 12-year-old Kurdish girl Ceylan Önkol who lost her life in a mortar shell explosion in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in 2009.
The court ordered the state to pay Ceylan's family a total of 283,000 Turkish Liras ($36,720) compensation, Mezopotamya news agency reported on March 8.
Ceylan lost her life while she was pasturing sheep in the hamlet of Hambaz in Şenlik village in Diyarbakır's Lice district. The explosion occurred on Sept. 29, 2009.
Ceylan's deceased body was left there for six hours and the prosecutor went to the scene of the incident three days later for reasons of “life safety.”
The Diyarbakır 2nd Administrative Court has ruled that Ceylan was 10 percent at fault as the mortar shell had exploded due to a “pounding” on the unexploded ammunition, and the Interior Ministry was 90 percent at fault.
The court said that the ministry had failed to take the necessary precautions to maintain the security of the region as it was utilized by locals to graze their animals and by children as a playground.
The court's decision came following a retrial of the case. In 2014, the Diyarbakır court initially awarded Ceylan's family 28,208 liras in compensation, but the family lodged an appeal saying that an effective investigation had not been carried out.
In 2019, the Council of State, Turkey's highest administrative court, found that the state has a “neglect of duty” in Ceylan's death and therefore the family needs to be also awarded non-pecuniary damages, apart from material compensation.
Following Ceylan's death, the family and NGOs at the time said that the 12-year-old girl had been hit by a mortar round fired from a nearby military base. However, an expert's report later found out that she had detonated unexploded ordnance that had been left in the area at some previous time.
Government reports denied any military role in Ceylan's death and pointed the finger to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as being responsible for the girl's death.