Amnesty International has welcomed the conviction of three Turkish soldiers for “intentionally wounding” a conscientious objector while he was in military custody.
A military court in Istanbul sentenced the soldiers to three
months and 10 days' imprisonment on 13 November for the
“intentional wounding” of Mehmet Bal in June 2008.
Mehmet Bal was arrested for evading military service on 8 June
and detained at Hasdal Military Prison in Istanbul.
His lawyers told Amnesty International that the next day, a
senior military officer took Mehmet Bal into a prison ward and
ordered military prisoners to “do what is necessary to remind
him of prison rules”.
Prisoners in the cell then kicked Mehmet Bal and beat his face
and body with a plank of wood.
After the attack, Mehmet Bal was taken to Gümüşsuyu Military
Hospital for treatment. He was then sent back to Hasdal Military
Prison on 10 June, reportedly without having fully recovered
from his injuries. Mehmet Bal was eventually released on 24 June
and found not guilty of the charges against him in December
The three soldiers convicted of intentional wounding were all
prisoners being held in the cell at the time of Mehmet Bal’s
No charges have been brought against the military officer who
allegedly instructed the prisoners to beat Mehmet Bal, nor
against any other official at the prison.
Lawyers representing Mehmet Bal have appealed the verdict on the
grounds that the men should have been convicted of the more
serious offence of "torment" (eziyet).
“We welcome the fact that soldiers who ill-treated Mehmet Bal
have been convicted. However, Mehmet Bal should never have been
detained in the first place for simply exercising his right to
freedom of conscience in refusing to perform military service,”
said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s researcher on
Conscientious objectors are frequently ill-treated in Turkish
military custody after being arrested and detained for their
refusal to perform military service.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Turkish
authorities to stop the prosecutions of conscientious objectors
and to introduce a civilian alternative to military service in
line with European and international standards and
Legislation allowing the repeated prosecution and conviction of
conscientious objectors for their refusal to perform military
service remains in force despite a European Court of Human
Rights ruling that such practices represent a violation of
Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights
(prohibition of torture or other ill-treatment).
In the vast majority of cases, effective investigations are not
held following allegations of torture and other ill-treatment by
state officials and those responsible are not brought to