Arrest Warrant for Merve Bozyigit, Who Withdrew Her Previous Testimony

Merve Bozyigit, a defendant who previously wanted to benefit from the effective remorse law, was heard and interrogated on March 9, 2020. She withdrew her previous testimony, which she gave in October 2018 at the police station, and said that she did not want to benefit from the effective remorse law.

She explained before the Court that she had been harassed and subjected to psychological violence by the police during her interrogation, that she had been forced to plead guilty, that the only way out presented to her was to accept all the allegations. She said that even though she had insistently denied the accusations, the police officers had kept on forcing her to cooperate and accept the accusations, that she had been frightened and had eventually conceded to do what the officers wanted.

Bozyigit told the Court about the details of the coercion she had faced:

  • There was no attorney in the room during her interrogation, except for a brief time at the beginning and at the end of the interrogation.
  • The police officers treated her like a prostitute and said things to her that a woman would never want to hear. (They came very close to her, blew cigarette smoke in her face and asked her sexually explicit questions, like how many men she had slept with, which parts of her body were beautiful, etc.)
  • Contrary to the written record of testimony, no breaks were given during the interrogation. She was not allowed to go to toilet or eat anything. She had her period at the time and when she got out of the police station and came back home, her clothes were drenched in blood.
  • There was no audio-video recording during her interrogation.
  • The testimony is not her words, but words of the police officers, which she was forced to sign.

Defense lawyers pointed out the following points:

  • The defendant is still under threat by the police officers, who called her a week before the court interrogation to give testimony again at the police station.
  • One of the police officers who interrogated the defendant interrogated 18 more other plaintiffs, and the other officer 60 more plaintiffs in the same case file, as if there were no other police officers in Istanbul police headquarters. It is quite suspicious that the same officers are involved in these interrogations.

The Prosecution and the adversarial party’s attorney wanted Bozyigit to be arrested on the grounds that she may tamper with evidence (even though she had been free through all this time and had not tampered with any evidence) and that she had participated in the acts against the plaintiffs.

The Court disregarded what the defendant had experienced at the police station and ruled to hear the police officers and the attorney (whom should have been indicted on account of the offences they committed during the performance of their duty, but whom have not been) as witnesses and expected them to testify against themselves.

Bozyigit has literally been labelled as a liar, and those about whom she complained have been heard as witnesses, when neither she nor her attorney was in the courtroom, and thus their right to ask questions to these people was hindered. In violation of equality of arms principle and the right to a fair trial, witnesses were heard and they denied the points Bozyigit stated the day before.

In the absence of the defendant, without hearing her final words in the face of the arrest demand, and therefore in violation of the procedural law, the Court issued an arrest warrant in absentia.

When the defendant was in custody and during the police interrogation, she was subjected to torture and maltreatment, in violation of the following:

  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), article 7
  • The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950),
  • Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1988),
  • The European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
  • The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Therefore, her testimony at the police station, even if given in the presence of an attorney, is null and void. However, even though she stated that she had been sexually harassed during the interrogation, an arrest warrant was issued merely because she withdrew her statement in which she wanted to benefit from the effective remorse law.

The Court settled for hearing only one of the two police officers who had interrogated Bozyigit.

The police officer who was heard acknowledged that there had been procedural mistakes, that the interrogation had not been video-recorded and this had not been written down.

It is dubious whether the attorney who had been called for during the police interrogation had really been assigned by the Bar. As a matter of fact, this attorney is married to a police officer and had exerted immense pressure on Bozyigit to benefit from the effective remorse law.

During the Court hearing, this attorney ran into several contradictions in her statement. For example, first she said that she had never left the room during Bozyigit’s interrogation, then she said that she had had to leave the room frequently because she was pregnant.

Even after Bozyigit gave her testimony at the police station, she was called numerous times by the police officers and pressure was exerted on her. This is proven by the phone HTS (Historical Traffic Search) data.

On the other hand, except for a few people, the so-called members of the alleged criminal organization do not know Bozyigit at all. None of the complainants have accused her of any offence. Let alone a strong suspicion, there is not even the slightest suspicion that she may be a member of the alleged organization.

Because of these reasons, the recent arrest order is unjust and arbitrary.

The ruling of the Court is particularly important because Bozyigit was one of those people threatened and coerced to accept fabricated allegations. She finally had the courage to step forward and tell what she had gone through, but her courage is literally being repaid with punishment. This inevitably serves as an alarming example to other defendants and plaintiffs who wanted to benefit from the effective remorse law as a result of threats and unbearable conditions of the prison, yet who refrain from making false incriminating statements. They are literally being forced to make false incriminating statements against the defendants in order to avoid being arrested.

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