TURKISH Cypriot police blocked traffic leading to a military court yesterday in order to prevent lawyers, journalists and relatives from attending the trial of a young conscript accused of bringing the Turkish military into disrepute.
Halil Karapasaoglu now faces ten days in a military lockup after the closed hearing in a military court found him guilty of bringing the Turkish military into disrepute by writing an article in a Turkish Cypriot newspaper claiming physical violence had been used against conscripts. He is also accused of travelling to the Greek Cypriot side while in the army.
Karapasaoglu’s lawyers say however that the conscript had been on medical discharge when he wrote the article and travelled to the south of the island.
“Halil wrote that people were being beaten in the army. Because of this he is now in court,” Karapasaoglu’s lawyer Oncil Polili told journalists and well-wishers at the roadblock in Bogazi yesteday morning. He added that the conscript had “looked to his conscience” before writing about physical abuse in the army at a time when other similar stories of abuse within the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot militaries were coming to light.
In October this year Ugur Kantar, a Turkish conscript serving in the north, died after being allegedly tortured to death in a military jail. Efforts to prosecute those accused of his death are continuing in Turkey.
Polili also slammed the ‘authorities’ in the north for thinking they could “draw a curtain” between what happened in the military and what happens outside.
“They think that inside they can set up courts and operate them as they wish without lawyers or any such obstacles,” he said.
Gesturing to the line of around 20 policemen blocking the road to the military court Polili said: “They have built a wall. However, we don’t accept this way of doing things which is why were are here today”.
A judge at yesterday’s closed hearing sentenced Karapasaoglu to ten days confinement in military jail on the outskirts of the northern part of Nicosia. His supporters have pledged to continue fighting for his release.