The General Staff on Tuesday issued an angry statement denying the truth of allegations that Pvt. Uğur Kantar, who died allegedly as a result of torture while being held in a military disciplinary facility, was subject to any physical abuse, accusing those making the allegations of attempting to turn the people against the armed forces.
The General Staff said Kantar, who according to the allegations was tortured for days in a prison chamber referred to as “the disco” by the military unit in which he was serving in northern Cyprus, had been sentenced to solitary confinement for “disrupting order” after he got into a fight with a fellow soldier. According to the statement, Kantar was sent to the brigade’s disciplinary correction facility on July 18 for one week. The statement claimed that Kantar collapsed while his release documents were being processed, on July 25, and that Kantar was having seizures “that looked like epileptic seizures,” and also had a high fever. He was later transferred to a northern Cyprus hospital. The statement also said that due to the suspicious nature of Kantar’s medical condition, all six prison guards serving in the prison at the time were removed from their posts. Two guards were detained by a military prosecutor conducting an investigation into the case. The two men were placed under arrest. Kantar died on Oct. 12, 79 days after the incident, at İstanbul’s Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) hospital.
The statement also said that Kantar’s family had apologized to the military for threatening phone calls some family members made to commanders of Kantar’s former unit. It denied allegations that the young man’s mother was not allowed into the GATA hospital because she was wearing a headscarf.
An investigation into the young man’s death is still ongoing. The family claims abuse and torture caused Kantar’s death. Earlier this week, a letter written months ago to Parliament’s Human Rights Investigation Committee by another private who served in the same unit as Kantar was published in Turkish newspapers. The letter includes serious allegations of torture, abuse and humiliation in “the disco” at the hands of the prison’s commanders.
18 October 2011, Tuesday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL