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Justice remains elusive for family of 11-year-old girl six years after her suspicious death

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Şaban Vatan, the father of Rabia Naz, who died six years ago and whose death was allegedly covered up by a senior ruling party member, has called on Turkey’s authorities to ensure accountability and justice, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

In a video he released on the anniversary of Rabia Naz’s death, he said, “Everything was done to protect the murderers.”

“If this country is governed by the rule of law, then they should be brought to justice,” he said in the video.

Turkish prosecutors had decided on the non-prosecution of Rabia Naz’s case in 2020, sparking widespread outrage on social media.

In April 2018 the 11-year-old was found dead near her apartment in the Eynesil district of Turkey’s northern Giresun province.

The autopsy report 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.

Her father, Şaban Vatan, however, claimed she was hit by a car and dragged close to the apartment with the evidence rubbed off her clothes. He also said the car was driven by the nephew of Coşkun Somuncuoğlu, a former mayor of the district from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

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

With the help of freelance journalist Metin Cihan, Vatan’s allegations were brought to public notice, sparking several social media campaigns.

In July 2019 a parliamentary investigation committee was established with the participation of all political parties. The committee members visited the alleged crime scene and were briefed by local officials.

Opposition deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu wrote in the committee’s final report that the crime scene investigation was not done properly and led to a lack of evidence backing the father’s allegations.

Former interior minister Süleyman Soylu, who also met with the father to hear his side of the story, told journalists in November that there was not a single piece of evidence substantiating the father’s accusations.

In the meantime, 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.

Cihan, who was instrumental in drawing public attention to the case, later left Turkey, saying he had received death threats.

“Six years ago today, she was left in front of her home, severely injured. She wasn’t able to talk. She couldn’t tell what happened to her,” Cihan said on X on Friday.

“The police and prosecutors failed to do their job. The death was first presented as a suicide. Then the case was closed. Her father worked like a detective and proved that it was no suicide. Yet, instead of investigating the perpetrators, they tried to send him to a mental institution with forged documents and a hasty court procedure.”

“A system that protects murderers is responsible for every murder,” wrote actor Orhan Aydın.

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