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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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Kurdish Human Rights Project Concerned at Flight Risk in Trial of Extra-Judicial Killing Suspect

In May this year a case was opened against Gültekin Sütçü, a former member of Turkish security forces, for involvement in the killing of Mehmet Şerif Avşar in 1994. Though several other people were convicted in 2000 for involvement in the killing, Sütçü was in hiding until October 2006, when he was arrested entering Turkey from Bulgaria. He is thought to be equally if not fully responsible for Avşar‘s murder.

Mehmet Şerif Avşar was taken into custody by several armed policemen on 22 April 1994 in Diyarbakır and was later found dead. His family took a case to the European Court of Human Rights with the assistance of KHRP. In 2002 the Court found Turkey responsible for Avşar’s killing, in violation of the right to life as enshrined in Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights. It also found under Articles 2 and 13 that Turkey failed adequately to investigate the killing.


The first hearing of the trial took place on 9 August 2007, during which it was decided Sütçü should be released from custody while the trial is ongoing. This decision to not remand the accused in custody is of grave concern to KHRP. Gültekin Sütçü has shown himself to be a serious flight risk, having been on the run right up to late last year. Now that proceedings have commenced against him, it is likely he will once again disappear and evade justice.

Today KHRP Executive Director Kerim Yildiz stated: “Mehmet Şerif Avşar’s abduction and murder in 1994 was sadly one of countless such crimes that have been committed with impunity by agents of the state in Turkey. Turkey over the years has displayed great negligence and indeed reluctance in pursuing and bringing to justice members of its own security forces for torture, abductions and murder. Such negligence breeds a climate of impunity and encourages the continuation of grave human rights abuses. KHRP is very concerned that the Court’s decision to release Mr Sütçü, despite the clear flight risk, is a further example of State negligence in trying its own people."