Turkish probe over controversial soldier target practice - VIDEO

Video shows that the captain risked the lives of soldiers by ordering them to hold the target and firing backwards through his legs.

Turkish probe over controversial soldier target practice - VIDEO

World Bulletin / News Desk

A recently emerged video recording of an army target practice directed by Capt. Metin Gürcan in Şırnak province has shown that the captain risked the lives of soldiers by ordering them to hold the target and firing backwards through his legs.

The General Staff said in a statement that an investigation has been launched into the captain, stressing that such a method of target practice is not included in the relevant Turkish Armed Forces' (TSK) instructions. Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül also said as he was responding to questions from reporters in Parliament that the incident was unfortunate and that an investigation into the captain is under way, according to Cihan news agency.

A video recording of the target practice, believed to have been recorded on a mobile phone, was aired on Wednesday on a private TV channel. In the video the captain, from the 6th Motorized Private Battalion in the Akçay district of Şırnak, who had reportedly been trained at the Special Forces Command, orders the soldiers to gather around the target and says, "Those who are cowards can move away from the target." He then fires at the target backwards through his legs. The voices of some soldiers saying, "Please don't," ostensibly to the officer, are heard in the video. The captain shoots four times and hits the target each time.

The incident has led to outrage among the families of soldiers who were killed or injured while serving in the military. Stating that the incident is unacceptable, the president of the Malatya branch of the Association for Families of Slain Soldiers, Ömer Tekin, said the officials should first conduct a mental health check on the captain. Bilal Avcıoğlu, who heads the Elazığ branch of the Veterans Association, also condemned the incident and said it brings to mind the 2009 scandal in which four soldiers were killed in the eastern province of Elazığ.

In the incident that took place in August 2009, the four soldiers died after an officer, Lt. Mehmet Tümer, gave a private a hand grenade whose pin he had pulled out to punish him for sleeping during night watch. The military announced that Sgt. İbrahim Yaman and privates İbrahim Öztürk, Ali Osman Altın and Mesut Bulut died in a hand grenade accident. A report appeared in the Taraf daily claiming that the deaths of the four soldiers were not in fact the result of an accident as was initially claimed but were due to the lieutenant's anger over a private falling asleep while on night watch.

Lt. Tümer was later arrested as part of a military investigation into the explosion. He was convicted of consciously and knowingly committing a crime and for negligence in his method of punishing the soldier and was sentenced to nine years, two months in prison.

Martyrs' Widows and Orphans Association's Isparta branch head Doğan Gümük asked what this captain would have done if one of the soldiers had been shot.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Şubat 2011, 17:05