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Teenager convicted over Kobani protests deaths appeals life sentence amid new evidence

Dec 02,  2021
By Ahval
Source: https://ahvalnews.com/kobani-trial/teenager-convicted-over-kobani-protests-deaths-appeals-life-sentence-amid-new-evidence

Lawyers for the young man convicted in the case of Yasin Börü, a teenager killed during street protests across Turkey in October 2014, have filed an appeal to the Court of Cassation with new video evidence.

Mazlum İçli was arrested while still technically a minor in 2018, according to state broadcaster TRT Haber. Despite being just 14 at the time of the alleged incidents, he was convicted to life in prison over the deaths of Börü and three others, as well as attempting to disrupt state unity.

At least 34 people were killed in the October 2014 demonstrations that spread throughout Turkey after the government refused to intervene against the Islamic State’s (ISIS) siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, located just metres across the Turkish border.

The protests saw clashes between Turkey’s rival Kurdish movements, including the Free Cause Party (Hüda-Par), an Islamist group previously involved in political violence and loosely allied with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Yasin Börü’s family are reportedly linked to the party.

Erdoğan has personally blamed members of the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) for Börü’s death and frequently mentions the teenager in his speeches. In total, 108 members of the HDP, including the party’s former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, as well as several members of parliament, are facing charges of terrorism, murder and incitement over the protests.

Mahsuni Karaman, a lawyer representing İçli, said his client had been caught up in a politically motivated process.

“Look at how young Mazlum’s life was destroyed just to say: ‘There is no mistake in the October 6 – 8 (protest) trials’,” Karaman said in a tweet while sharing a report on the case by broadcaster Deutsche Welle Turkish.

“An acquittal ruling would open to question the legitimacy of these trials. With this knowledge and a political purpose, the acquittal ruling was prevented,” Karaman was cited by DW as saying during the appeal petition. “This is not a ruling by the court, but a ruling that was dictated for them.”

According to new evidence presented at the appeal, İçli was 140 km away helping his father play music at a wedding in the Kulp district of Diyarbakır at the time of Börü’s death. Separate videos show the then-14-year-old in Kulp at various times throughout the day, and are backed by data from nearby cell towers, his lawyers said.

İçli’s original conviction was based on the testimony of a witness from the same neighbourhood, referred to by the initials S.Ç.

They told the court in 2014 İçli was rumoured to be a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) youth wing.

The witness said they had heard from other boys in the neighbourhood that İçli was involved in throwing stones and Molotov cocktails in the name of the PKK.

The PKK has been party to an internal conflict with the Turkish state since the 1980s and is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union.

Another suspect in the case identified by S.Ç. later turned out to have been behind bars at the time of the deaths.

In 2020, the Court of Cassation Criminal Chamber No.15 overturned İçli’s murder conviction but upheld the charge of attempting to disrupt state unity.

The current appeal is based on a new conviction dated May 2021.