MANISA–Turkey (Reuters)–A court in western Turkey on Wednesday acquitted 10 police officers of torturing 14 people–including teenage students–after detaining them on charges of belonging to a leftist group.
"The court has decided to acquit the defendants because it has not seen adequate evidence proving them guilty beyond reasonable doubt," a judge said when reading out the verdict.
The youths had said police tortured them for 10 days in 1996–stripping them naked–anally raping them with batons–giving them electric shocks and hosing them with pressurized water.
The trial was a high profile case.
"Will you be able to sleep at night?" shouted Pelin Arda–a lawyer for the youths–as the police officers were escorted outside.
Mounting tension between security forces and supporters and relatives of the youths was eased when a local member of parliament from the left-wing opposition Republican People’s Party stepped in.
"The law in Manisa has made a mistake. This will be corrected at the Court of Appeals," said member of parliament Sabri Ergul.
A verdict sentencing the students and five others on charges of engaging in illegal leftist activities was quashed by an appeals court in January–citing "inadequate investigation."
Concerns about Turkey’s human rights record was one reason cited by the European Union recently when it put Turkey’s long-standing membership bid on hold.
Turkey has been under fire from its Western allies–as well as local rights groups–for the police torture of detainees.