Turkey Becomes Brazil: Orders Victim To Pay For Costs Of Trial After Police Blinded Him

from the welcome-to-our-dystopian-future dept

If George Orwell's "1984" has become a how-to manual for the modern surveillance state, Terry Gilliam's dystopian satire "Brazil," released in 1985, is surely the film of the book (one of the possible titles considered for the film was "1984 ½"). Amongst its many brilliant and disturbing moments, there's the following dialog from an interview of Mr. Helpmann, the Deputy Minister of Information:

Interviewer: Nevertheless, Mr. Helpmann, there are those who maintain that the Ministry of Information has become too large and unwieldy...And the cost of it all, Deputy Minister? Seven percent of the gross national product.

Mr. Helpmann: I understand this concern on behalf of the tax payers. People want value for money. That's why we always insist on the principle of Information Retrieval charges. It's absolutely right and fair that those found guilty should pay for their periods of detention and for the Information Retrieval Procedures used in their interrogation.
The idea that people ought to reimburse the costs the state incurs in arresting, interrogating and convicting them is pretty chilling. It's also just moved closer to reality in Turkey, as this story in Hürriyet Daily News reveals:
A Kyrgyz tourist who was wounded during the Gezi Park protests has been ordered to pay a total of 151 Turkish Liras to the Turkish state even though his injuries were caused by state police.

Shavkatbek Saipov, 30, filed a complaint against the police, claiming that he lost his eye after a gas canister hit his face, but the court rejected his claims and ordered him to pay 151 liras [about $50] as "the cost of trial."
As the post explains, Saipov was caught up in the massive Gezi park protests that took place in 2013. Here's what he says happened:
Saipov was walking in Ankara’s Güvenpark as a tourist on June 1, 2013, when police attacked protesters during the mass demonstrations that occurred around the country. Saipov said a gas canister used to disperse protesters hit his left eye after he became stuck in the middle of the police and the protesters.

Despite undergoing two surgeries, Saipov lost his left eye and filed a complaint against the police officers. He also demanded compensation worth 210,000 liras [$68,000], of which 10,000 [$3,250] was for material damages and 200,000 [$64,750] for damages for mental anguish, from the Interior Ministry.
The 151 liras fine may be relatively small, but it creates a troubling precedent for other courts in Turkey to follow -- and for other countries to consider when they vow to provide "value for money."

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 19 Oct 2016 @ 11:10pm

    'You already lost one eye, want to lose even more?"

    The fine isn't to pay for the trial, as bad as that would be.

    No, this is a fine for daring to sue the police for their actions, punishment for not being a good little peon and accepting his 'bad luck', since those in positions of authority are never wrong and they never make mistakes or do something they didn't mean to.

    (And of course this being Turkey they are absolutely never thin-skinned children masquerading as adults, throwing tantrums when people say mean things about them. Never ever.)

    That the fine may be somewhat small is irrelevant as it's secondary, the primary purposes of it is to send a message, and that it's done quite well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 20 Oct 2016 @ 12:18am

      Re: 'You already lost one eye, want to lose even more?"

      "the primary purposes of it is to send a message"

      Is that message "tourists, don't come here, you'll be attacked by the police and pay for the privilege"? That's the message I'm getting here, anyway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      alkaraki (profile), 20 Oct 2016 @ 1:41am

      Re: 'You already lost one eye, want to lose even more?"

      "(And of course this being Turkey they are absolutely never thin-skinned children masquerading as adults, throwing tantrums when people say mean things about them. Never ever.)"

      Yeah. I hear all of those Turkish people are super racist too. Yep. And sarcasm is the best way to make your point.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Dan (profile), 20 Oct 2016 @ 3:22am

        Re: Re: 'You already lost one eye, want to lose even more?"

        Hmmm... Is there any politician or leader in Turkey who might be accurately described as "thin-skinned children masquerading as adults, throwing tantrums when people say mean things about them"? Maybe someone who's been covered here from time to time?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2016 @ 12:07am

    For that paltry sum you couldn't expect to get a decent trial, now could you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 20 Oct 2016 @ 12:46am

    Sorry, but that's non-news

    The guy lost the trial, and in loser-pays jurisdictions like Turkey, that automatically makes him have to carry the court fees.

    Which are comparatively modest given the complaint amount.

    The only news here is that the guy lost his case. Having to pay the court fees is not "troubling precedent" but the normal case of legal process.

    This does not in any way mean that he has to pay for the cost of the action costing him his eye. He is paying the judicial branch, not the executive one.

    Turkey has a strenuous record with civil rights, sure, but court fees and the loser-pays principle are really not part of the problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Dan (profile), 20 Oct 2016 @ 3:21am

      Re: Sorry, but that's non-news

      ...but it's something to consider when people advocate moving the US to a loser-pays system, as is done with some regularity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 20 Oct 2016 @ 3:49am

        Re: Re: Sorry, but that's non-news

        In the U.S., he would have paid a hell lot more since the U.S.' non-adoption of "loser-pays" also means the absence of mandatory limited rates for lawyers.

        Even with the court fee of $50, his unsuccessful suit will have come a whole lot less expensive than the U.S. equivalent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2016 @ 7:13am

      Re: Sorry, but that's non-news

      He is paying the judicial branch, not the executive one.

      Kind of like "my left hand would like for you to pay it for your complaints about my right hand hitting you".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nobody Important, 20 Oct 2016 @ 6:32am

    Re: 'You already lost one eye, want to lose even more?"

    Something like this is already widely done in the U.S.:

    https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2015/jun/3/nevada-jail-charges-prisoners-meals-medical-car e-defray-costs/

    Prisoners in jails and in some state prisons (like Nevada) are charged for medical visits if the cause of the visit is "their fault" (those who judges that, I don't know).

    And see this:

    http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/18/news/economy/prison-fees-inmates-debt/

    "Costly prison fees are putting inmates deep in debt"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 20 Oct 2016 @ 6:46am

    Oh, I really thought you were actually talking about Brazil. In some recent protests one journalist lost an eye because of police violence. The court basically ruled he was at fault for losing his eye because he knew the zone was dangerous and still stayed there. No, really. I thought he had to pay for the privilege of losing the eye but we didn't go that far.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2016 @ 8:53am

    That's Whatever's wet dream, right there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2016 @ 2:21pm

    In the US, you have to pay to file a case, and you have to pay to seat a jury, right? And you don't get those back if you lose. How is this Turkey thing different?

    Also see Wisconsin statute 973.06 saying that a convicted defendant in a criminal case is liable for pretty much all of the costs of his arrest and trial, including the costs of, say, transporting a prisoner from Florida to be a witness against them, and the costs of their own public defender.

    And don't forget the miscellaneous surcharges that doesn't include: child pornography surcharge ($500 per image or copy of an image, determined by preponderance of the evidence and without a jury), drug offender diversion surcharge ($10 from anyone convicted of a property crime, for some reason), crime victim and witness assistance surcharge ($67 per misdemeanor, $92 per felony, and you still have to pay if they originally charge you with a crime and they later reduce it to a civil offense), crime prevention funding board surcharge ($20 per conviction), deoxyribonucleic acid analysis surcharge ($250 per felony, $200 per misdemeanor), domestic abuse surcharges ($100 per domestic abuse offense), and global positioning system tracking surcharge ($200 per offense relating to violating restraining orders, and they have authorization to increase this by 5% per year if they aren't getting enough money from it.) And restitution to the victim (but don't forget that an extra 10% of any such restitution amount is payable to the county). And according to case law, "The obligation of a defendant under this section is not dischargeable in bankruptcy." And, of course, there is also asset forfeiture. And all of that that doesn't include any actual fine imposed, which is separate. It would be a parody if it wasn't true.

    Quite frankly, I'm not going to sorry so much about Turkey until we can fix things here first.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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