Turkish court finds government culpable in death of 12-year-old Kurdish girl

A Turkish court has found the Interior Ministry partially culpable for the death of a 12-year-old Kurdish girl, who lost her life after an unexploded military ammunition went off in southeastern Diyarbakır province in 2009, Sözcü newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The ministry is 90 percent culpable for the killing of Ceylan Önkol, the Diyarbakır court found, citing the proximity of the scene of the incident to a residential area, over which the ministry was responsible for maintaining security.

The court has been ordered to pay 283,000 liras ($ 37,135) in damages to Önkol’s family,  Sözcü said.

Önkol was killed in the town of Lice while herding sheep on Sept. 28, 2009 in an incident that sparked national outrage. The girl’s body was left at the scene for six hours after a Lice prosecutor refused to go to the area, citing security concerns.

The girl’s family and NGO Human RightsAssociation (IHD) maintain she died from a mortar fired from a nearby military base, a claim denied by government reports.

Moreover, they say the incidentwas not thoroughly investigated by Turkish officials.

Önkol’s family had filed a lawsuit against the state for the pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages they sustained over her death, with a court ruling in 2015 for 28,208 liras (around $12,000 at the time ) be paid to the family in pecuniary damages, but gave no decision for the non-pecuniary damages. The family appealed the decision.

The family’s lawyer said they would be taking Tuesday’s decision, which held the victim 10 percent culpable in the incident,  to the Court of Appeals, Sözcü said.