The second session of the trial into Çeber’s death was held Thursday at the Bakirköy 14th Higher Criminal Court in Istanbul. Sixty defendants, including 42 prison guards, 13 policemen, four gendarmes and a doctor, are accused under Articles 94 and 95 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) of "torturing an individual." Several defendants have denied accusations that they subjected the activist to torture and maltreatment and claimed that Çeber sustained critical injuries to his head after he fell out of a chair.
But Yilmaz Aydogdu, one of the prison guards, said on Thursday that he witnessed his colleagues beating Çeber in the prison. "I was watching prison guards controlling the wards on Oct. 6. An inmate was insisting on not standing up. At that moment, Nevzat Kayim [one of other prison guards] hit Çeber twice or three times in the face. I told him to stop hitting him. Then I asked Çeber whether he was ill. He said: ‘I am not ill. I am a Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front [DHKP/C] supporter,’" he said.
Çeber and three of his friends — Özgür Akkaya, Cihan Gün and Aysu Baykal — were taken into custody in Istanbul in early October for reportedly selling the leftist magazine Yürüyüs. They were later arrested and sent to Metris Prison. The four inmates were allegedly subjected to torture and disproportionate use of force by policemen and prison guards. Çeber was taken to a hospital and was pronounced dead after suffering a brain hemorrhage as a result of head trauma.
Aydogdu also noted that he saw prison guards beating Çeber several other times. "Another day, I was walking along the corridor. I heard someone shouting. Çeber was again insisting on not standing up. Then, [prison guards] Sami Ergazi, Selahattin Apaydin and Nihat Kizilkaya started hitting him. Ergazi later pulled him toward the garden and continued beating him there. I told them not to hit him, but they didn’t listen to me," he said.
Chief Public Prosecutor Mustafa Kemal Öztürk demanded that 16 of the suspects be tried on charges of "heavy torture of an individual" instead of the current charges of "maltreating an individual." If the prosecutor’s request is accepted, these 16 suspects could face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
24 January 2009, Saturday
BÜLENT CEYHAN ISTANBUL
Zaman, 24 janvier 2009