Turkish court rules to detain father seeking justice on mental health grounds

A Turkish court on Wednesday has ruled that Şaban Vatan, a father trying to uncover the details regarding the death of his 11-year old daughter, will be sent to a mental institution for three weeks to assess the state of his mental health.

Vatan’s daughter Rabia Naz was found dead outside her family home in Eynesil, northern Turkey, last year. Police quickly ruled the death a suicide, but her father says crucial evidence has been overlooked, and has said he believes she was killed in a hit and run.

Vatan believes his daughter was hit by a car driven by relatives of the Eynesil mayor and that the incident was covered up by local police.

The case drew public attention in February, with many on social media supporting Vatan’s efforts to seek justice.

Vatan was detained in March by the police over a complaint filed by his brother, who said that Vatan had mental health issues. He was released the same day after people protested his detention on social media.

The Turkish court examined the brother’s complaint on Wednesday and decided that Şaban Vatan’s mental health status should be assessed.

“They made this decision despite our appeals, and our evidence against these ungrounded allegations,” Vatan told Duvar news site. 

“As citizens we will continue our struggle for justice,” he said. “They can send me to a mental institution, they can throw me in jail, I am behind my case. I will struggle until Rabia Naz’s killer is found,” he said.

Women’s Assemblies, a gender-equality group, announced this week that demonstrations will be organised in 17 provinces in Turkey on Saturday to call on the authorities to uncover the truth about Rabia Naz’s death.

The little girl’s suspicious death even affected the outcomes of local polls on March 31, according to some commentators. Nihal Bengisu Karaca, a columnist of the pro-government Habertürk news site, said this week that the Turkish authorities and the media’s indifference to Şaban Vatan’s struggle had disturbed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) voters.

The AKP suffered major defeats in local polls and lost the mayoral races in the country’s most populous provinces like Istanbul and Ankara. Eynesil, a small conservative district, was among the places where the AKP lost the election.