Turkey sentences two soldiers to life over conscript's death

ISTANBUL - A Turkish military court handed down life sentences to two former soldiers over the 2011 killing of conscript Ugur Kantar, who was tortured to death while serving in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, reports said Thursday.

Kantar lost his life after "being kicked, punched and slapped in the face, tortured and exposed to the sun for many hours" by Ayhan Keser and Firat Aslan, the court said, as quoted by Hurriyet newspaper.

"He was handcuffed to a chair under the sun" at a "disko," Turkish slang for a disciplinary cell in the military, the court ruled.

The military court in Kyrenia (Girne in Turkish) sentenced Keser and Aslan to life in prison on charges of "torture resulting in death" and an additional 100-year prison term for their mistreatment of other soldiers at the military prison.

Ayhan Senturk, a prison guard, was also given a suspended seven-year prison sentence for negligence stemming from not intervening to stop the torture.

Kantar, a Turkish citizen, spent 80 days in a coma before dying from wounds inflicted by his torturers.

He was being held in the military prison over involvement in a fracas with a fellow soldier.

His case has highlighted the problem of abuse and torture in the Turkish military, with cases ranging from brutal initiation rituals and forced excessive physical activity to torture that causes permanent physical and psychiatric damage or even death.

According to the "Rights of Conscripts Initiative", a Turkish NGO, more Turkish soldiers have died from suicide and abuse than in combat in the last decade.

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