Father investigating daughter’s suspicious death gets jail sentence, fine over complaint by ex-minister

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Şaban Vatan, who has been searching for the truth about the suspicious death of his daughter Rabia Naz Vatan for more than two years now, was on Friday handed down a prison sentence and a fine in a case filed by a former minister of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Eleven-year-old Rabia Naz was found dead on April 13, 2018 near her apartment in the Eynesil district of Turkey’s northern Giresun province.

The autopsy indicated that she died of broken bones and visceral organ damage that could have been inflicted by a fall from the apartment in which the Vatan family was living.

However, her father claimed she was hit by a car and dragged close to the apartment with the evidence rubbed off her clothes. Vatan alleged that the car was driven by the nephew of Coşkun Somuncuoğlu, a former mayor of the district from the ruling AKP.

He later added that Nurettin Canikli, a former AKP minister, had weighed in to cover up the death.

As part of the case launched after Canikli filed a complaint against Vatan over his allegations, Vatan was given a prison sentence of one year, eight months and a fine of TL 8,840 ($1,169) by a local court for “illegally obtaining and disseminating personal information” and “insulting a public officer,” respectively.

The announcement of the verdict had been deferred by the court, which also ordered Vatan to pay attorney’s fees of TL 4,080 ($539) and an additional TL 120 ($15) for court costs.

Sharing photos of the verdict on social media, Vatan on Friday said: “Here you are. The result [of the case]. I am supposed to pay an attorney’s fee. Who cares if a child was murdered?”

Vatan’s allegations were brought to public notice and sparked several social media campaigns with the help of freelance journalist Metin Cihan, who left Turkey in September, saying he had received death threats.

A parliamentary investigation committee, established in July 2019 with the participation of all political parties, visited the alleged crime scene and was briefed by local officials. Opposition deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu wrote in the committee’s final report that the crime scene investigation was not done properly, leading to a lack of evidence backing Vatan’s allegations.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, who also met with the father to listen to his side of the story, however, told journalists in November that there was not a single clue substantiating the father’s accusations.

Meanwhile, Vatan was sent to a clinic for an evaluation of his mental health and was briefly detained due to a complaint from the key witness in the case, who changed his testimony five times during the prolonged investigation.

The Giresun Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in July decided on non-prosecution of the case on the suspicious death of the 11-year-old girl, sparking outrage on social media.

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