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Turkey to hear jail torture case

By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Istanbul

A soldier stands guard inside a Turkish prison. File photo
The trial is expected to open in January

A court in Turkey has agreed to hear a case against 60 police and prison officials accused of the ill treatment and torture of people last month.

One man died of a brain haemorrhage after an alleged beating in Istanbul.

Prosecutors have called for three prison guards and one manager to be given life imprisonment for torture.

The Turkish government has promised zero tolerance of torture in custody and the number of reported cases has fallen dramatically recently.

But human rights groups call this case shocking proof that the problem still persists.

'Kicked and punched'

The 60 men - including police, prison guards and prison managers - will go on trial in January.

The prosecutor's indictment describes how Engin Ceber, a left-wing political activist, was arrested during a protest against the alleged shooting by police last year of a fellow activist.

He and his three friends were first beaten at an Istanbul police station, the indictment says.

When they were transferred to prison, the report says, they were beaten again with truncheons, until they could barely walk.

Using information from witness statements and video footage, the prosecutor then describes how Mr Ceber, 29, was kicked and punched in his cell by prison guards - and had his head slammed repeatedly against the iron door of the cell.

Mr Ceber died in hospital three days later.

EU warning

Turkey's justice minister made an unprecedented apology to the relatives of Mr Ceber.

The EU highlighted the issue of torture and ill treatment in its latest report on Turkey's progress towards membership.

It stressed that cases of abuse in custody are far fewer now, as a result of improved legal safeguards.

But the report expressed concern about an increase in reports of ill treatment by security forces outside official places of detention.

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