Orhan Abravcı is 23 years old. He was in good health when he went to the military in 2009 - until he met non-commissioned officer Mehmet Ersoy at an infantry unit in Erzincan (north-eastern Anatolia).
Abravcı was beaten by Ersoy with a heavy bludgeon on two days and his hip bone was broken. His brother Burhan Abravcı said that Orhan Abravcı was still not able to leave the house because his condition had not improved despite two surgeries. Burhan Abravcı deplored that a human life should not be that cheap and continued:
"My brother graduated from primary school. Therefore, he can work in jobs that require physical strength. However, let alone working, he cannot leave the house. Last year, he received a report saying that he was 'not suitable for military service'. Since then, he has not even gone to any health checks. In addition, he does not have social security".
The sentence handed down to the non-commissioned officer who brought a 23-year-old person into this situation might be found surprising: a monetary fine of TL 1,500 (€750) to be paid in 24 instalments (TL 62.5/€30 per months for two years).
"Nothing happened, don't worry"
The private's family was informed about the incident by Orhan's fellow soldiers. They called Burhan Abravcı in the evening of 7 November 2009 and told him that his brother had been beaten by a commander and was not able to rise to his feet.
When his father called the military unit to ask what happened he was told that nothing important had occurred. Nevertheless, the father went all the way to Erzincan immediately. After his arrival, he understood from what he saw that he was encountering a very broad interpretation of the concept of "something important".
Upon the father's intervention, Orhan was taken to the Erzincan Military Hospital. He underwent surgery immediately because his hip bone was broken. However, the surgery was unsuccessful and Orhan was transferred to the Gülhane Medical Academy (GATA) in Ankara to undergo a second surgery.
He remained in hospital for several weeks. During this time, the Military Prosecution took his statement and launched an investigation about Sergeant Mehmet Ersoy who had allegedly beat him and about Lieutenant Süleyman Şahin because of alleged slapping and reprimanding.
"I did not beat him, I just nudged him"
Orhan's brother Burhan said in an interview with bianet that a trial was opened against the ranked military officers at the Erzincan 3rd Army Command Military Court.
Both defendants were tried under Article 117 of the Military Penal Code on "Beating of a Subordinate". Lieutenant Şahin was acquitted. Sergeant Ersoy received two prison sentences of two months and 15 days each. The court then converted the prison sentences into a monetary fine of TL 1,500 in total payable in 24 instalments.
According to Burhan Abravcı, the court took into account the reports and defined that on a scale of six the broken hip bone had a fourth degree impact on Orhan's life. Nevertheless, the court put forward a lack of concrete evidence regarding the allegation that the fracture had actually been caused by the assault.
As reported by Radikal newspaper reporter Şükrü Oktay Kılıç, Sergeant Ersoy who defended himself at court stated, "Looking from a distance it might have seemed as if there was an assault but I just nudged Orhan with a thin stick".
Spiral of violence
This is what Burhan Abravcı told bianet about the assault against his brother:
* Orhan went to Sergeant Ersoy in November 2009 because of his aching foot. However, the officer thought he was lying in order to get way from sports and keeping guard. He told him "I will send you to hospital but I will take you to account if nothing comes out of it".
* At hospital, a doctor examined Orhan and took an X-ray of his foot without detecting any abnormity. He said that the pain might stem from a sprain and recommended to rest a couple of days.
* When Orhan told his commander that the X-ray was negative, the superior beat him behind closed doors and assigned him to guard duties. Yet, Orhan could not keep watch since he was not able to stand on his feet.
* Thereupon, Lieutenant Şahin called Orhan to his room, shouted at him and slapped him a couple of times.
* One day later, Sergeant Ersoy beat Orhan Abravcı with a thick club in front of his fellow soldiers. After that, Abravcı was not able to stand up and his friends called his family.
"Outdated, primitive regulations"
Orhan Abravcı's lawyer Fatih Alıcı referred to the Military Penal Code and noted that Sergeant Ersoy was tried under Article 117. He explained:
* Articles 117 and 118 of the Military Penal Code are the most primitive provisions that were enforced in 1925.
* Article 117 foresees imprisonment of up to two years for the beating of a subordinate. Article 118 anticipates a maximum prison sentence of five years for creating damage by beating.
* Even though the court accepted the fact that the offence was committed by the sergeant, it concluded that concrete evidence proving that the fracture was caused by the assault was lacking.
* In other words, the court deemed the beating by the sergeant evident but did not accept as a proven fact that the fracture of the hip bone stemmed from the assault. Therefore, the sentence is based on Article 117 for beating only.
* We are going to file a compensation claim at a civil court. But first of all we have to wait for the decision of the Military Court of Appeals. Right now, we would not be able to claim anything in a compensation trial because the court considers the offence of the sergeant as mere beating. (EKN)