Ibrahim Uyar has been awarded compensation of $29,667 for 6 years and 7 months of wrongful imprisonment for murder.* Uyar was 16 when convicted in 2010 of the murder of a prostitute in 2008 in Ödemis, Turkey. He was acquitted by an appeals court and released in 2015.
Gülseren G. was stabbed to death in her house on July 19, 2008 in Ödemis, Turkey. The fifty-year-old Gülseren worked out of her house as a prostitute. (Ödemis is 340 miles southwest of Ankara, Turkey’s capital.)
Police determined the last person at Gülseren’s house was 25-year-old Hamdi Gündüz.
The day after the murder Gündüz was arrested at the home where Uyar lived with his parents. Gündüz was a friend of a friend of Uyar’s father, and during the night he had arrived and asked to spend the night.
When interrogated, Gündüz said the night before he had gone to see Gülseren with Uyar, and they agreed on a price to have sex with her. Gündüz said that after he had sex with Gülseren he waited in a corridor while Uyar went into her room. He said he heard a commotion and when he went into the room he saw that Gülseren had been stabbed. He said that he and Uyar than fled from her house.
Uyar was 14-years-old and in the 8th grade.
During his police interrogation Uyar denied any knowledge or involvement in Gülseren’s murder. He said he was home the entire night of her murder tending to his sick father while his mother was out of town. Uyar also said his friend Emre Çinar spent the night at the house with him, and that sometime during the night Gündüz arrived at the house.
Uyar’s friend Cinar was interrogated by the police, and he corroborated Uyar’s statement he spent the night of Gülseren’s murder with Uyar at his house, and they never left. He also confirmed that during the night Gündüz had arrived at the house. Cinar was jailed for a time, but later released.
Uyar was charged with murder based on Gündüz’ statement. He was jailed with adults pending his trial. Gündüz was charged with deliberate manslaughter and jailed pending trial.
During Uyar’s trial in 2010 the prosecution’s case was solely based on Gündüz’ statement. There was no other evidence linking him to Gülseren’s murder.
Uyar was 16 when he was found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to 21 years and 6 months in adult prison. Gündüz was convicted of intentional manslaughter and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Uyar and Gündüz appealed.
The first department of Turkey’s Supreme Court reversed Uyar’s conviction on the basis the prosecution’s evidence was not persuasive of his guilt. Gündüz conviction was affirmed because he had admitted involvement in the crime.
The prosecution appealed.
On June 26, 2015 the Ödemis High Penalty Court acquitted Uyar on the basis the prosecution presented insufficient evidence to prove his guilt. The 21-year-old Uyar was released from prison.
Uyar then filed a lawsuit in the Salihli Heavy Penal Court seeking compensation from Turkey’s Ministry of Finance for his false imprisonment.
On July 18, 2017 Uyar was awarded compensation of 104,561 liras (US$29,667) for his six years and seven months in custody. The compensation of US$4,500 per year of incarceration was based on Turkey’s minimum wage.
When interviewed by the press about the award, Uyar said the compensation was not enough considering he was wrongly imprisoned for almost seven years. He said: “I had difficulties in prison, I stayed in my cell for one year. I made a [23 day] hunger strike. … I did not have anything to do with it. … And now there is a sticker sticking to me. I’m a criminal.” Uyar also said: “I could not go to school. I have been having financial problems. I could not adjust to the outside. Should the worth of seven years be this?”
Uyar’s lawyer, Bilal Bahadir, told reporters they objected to the small amount of compensation. Bahadir said: “Ibrahim went to jail because of a defamation at the age of 14. He was acquitted when he was found not guilty at the age of 21. … Compensation does not impoverish the state, on the contrary, it shows the value that the state gives to its fundamental rights and freedoms.”
Uyar is currently working in a sandwich shop and planning to marry his fiance.
It appears Gündüz committed the murder alone and immediately afterwards sought refuge in the home of Uyar’s parents. He falsely implicated Uyar in an effort to save himself from being charged with her murder.
* 104,561 liras was the equivalent of US$29,667 at the exchange rate on July 18, 2017 of 3.52446 Lira to US$1. (http://www.x-rates.com/historical)