Emine Özben whose husband was abducted in Ankara two months ago took her case to the Turkish Constitutional Court (AYM) by filing a complaint on rights violations after her repeated pleas for an effective investigation into the case was rejected by the Turkish Police and prosecutors.
Mustafa Özben, a Bar-registered lawyer and academic at Turgut Özal University that was shut down by the government in July 2016 over alleged link to the Gülen movement, was abducted on May 9, 2017, by what elements linked to Turkish security and intelligence services.
In a petition filed by Emine Özben, a copy of which was obtained by SCF, it is stated that petitioner has exhausted all available and effective remedies before the Constitutional Court and requested that her husband to be found immediately.
It is also claimed that Turkey is in flagrant violation of Article 2 (protecting the right of every person to their life), Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and Article 5 (providing that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person) of The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Emine Özben claimed that she and their kids suffered from the trauma that may also amoun to breach of Turkey’s obligations under protections of the ECHR. She underlined Article 15 of the Convention that there are no exceptions or limitations on basic rights even under state of emergency and Turkey cannot derogate these rights.
According to the ECHR, a contracting state must act almost immediately over an illegal kidnapping and it is the state’s obligation to provide safety of life and property and to protect physical and mental integrity of its citizen. Emine Özben called on the Constitutional Court to take precautions immediately in order to protect her husband’s life and avoid non recoverable damages. The court is asked to put the petition in process without a delay due to sensitive of the case.
Emine Özben believes that her husband was kidnapped by the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MİT) and details how judicial and law enforcement authorities were unconcerned with her appeals in her petition. She said “the judiciary is no longer a part of separation of powers, the parliamentary has become functionless, the police turn blind eyes to lawlessness and all institutions play ostrich to the MİT.
She told her account of what she witnessed after missing her husband in detail. Mustafa Özben was abducted by three people on the corner of Güven Street and Kıvanç alley in Şentepe district of Ankara. On May 9, he departed from his home at 12:30 pm on his car with plate No.06 GBL 51 to drop his daughter at Şehit Mahmut Özdemir Elementary school. After school, he stopped by the ATM to withdraw cash and went for shopping. As he walked towards his car from the store, he was abducted by three people.
Emine Özben filed a missing case with the Şentepe police department 24 hours later but was shocked to learn that her husband was a wanted man on alleged links to the Gülen movement. “We heard that for the first time,” she said, recalling that police told her the husband may have fled. “Police did not believe that my husband was kidnapped.” She said police knew all the details, the abduction, how it happened and where it happened before she filed the missing report. They told her to take the case to celebrity TV host Müge Anlı who has a TV program on unsolved murders and missing cases.
Emine Özben has done her own investigation in the area and listed her findings in the compliant she filed with the prosecutor’s office. According to her investigation, witnesses said there was a Volkswagen Tranpsorter van parked waiting for her husband to come out from the store. As he walked towards his car, three man pushed him to the van. According to the witnesses, one man was wearing a black ski mask.
Police showed up at the scene as Emine Özben was talking to the witnesses, and told the people in the neighborhood that her husband was a fugitive. When she returned to the scene few days later, witnesses were unwilling to talk to her.
Two days later, she received a mysterious call from her husband around 22:00 pm at night. The call originated from phone number 0537047… and her husband’s voice sounded cracked and exhausted. “His sound was not good, sounded worn out and hesitant. He was afraid of his life. He was trying to understand if anything happened to us,” she said, before the short conversation was cut-off. His final words were “I love you…”
The telephone number was proceeded to investigation on June 13, 2017 . The registered user of the number never was interrogated. This crucial evidence was neglected on purpose by the police and prosecutors.
In the meantime, a witness statement from a white appliance store owner identified with names only as E.A. has emerged, stating that he saw a man carrying a plastic shopping bag was forced to get on the black Transporter van. “The doors of the van was shut and sped away before the man get a chance to shout,” he said, recalling that somebody in the neighborhood called the police to report the abduction. He stated that he did not see the faces of abductee and the men who kidnapped him.
Emine Özben and her lawyers talked this witness and was able to collect more detailed description on what happened on that day. The lawyers were surprised that E.A.’s original testimony was not fully entered into police records, suggesting police is trying to hush-up the investigation. Özben also noted that there were dozens of CCTV video surveillance cameras in the area but police did not thoroughly investigate those recordings.
Özben appealed Ankara prosecutor’s office to find out about the black van, trace the mysterious phone call she received and collect witness testimonials in the area.
She said she has a hard time to explain her three daughters, aged 5 months, 4 years and 10 years, about what happened to their father. “My kids are going through a trauma,” she noted.
Last April, a philosophy teacher Önder Asan who was abducted in Turkish capital on a broad daylight and reported missing by his wife turned up in Ankara police department as traumatized and tortured 42 days later. Ms. Özben believes her husband was abducted by the same officials.
Mysterious disappearances involving already-victimized opposition groups have become a common occurrence in Turkey in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
A study recently released by The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) in June revealed that Turkish government has resumed illegal abductions and enforced disappearances that were believed to be a thing of the past, primarily confined to the dark period of the 1990s, when mainly Kurds were victimized.
SCF has so far documented 13 individual cases of disappearance since 2016 that show a systematic and deliberate campaign of kidnappings by elements within the Turkish security and intelligence services as part of intimidation campaign to silence critical and independent voices and kill the right to dissent.July 21, 2017