The family of a man believed to have been shot “by accident” by US troops in northern Iraq has appealed to the Turkish president and prime minister after they found out through an inmate that the man is in fact being held prisoner at Abu Ghraib Prison.
Şehmus İlan, a truck driver carrying sand from the Turkish southeastern province of Mardin to Iraq, was announced to have been shot dead by US troops stationed in Mosul on March 17, 2005, when İlan failed to stop on a command from the troops. İlan's family was notified of the mistaken shooting when they received a note of apology signed by a US lieutenant stationed in Iraq, Andrew S. Lunoff, explaining that their son was shot dead “by mistake,” and that the US army offered their condolences and apologies.
Horrified by the revelation, the family went to Iraq to investigate İlan's death but failed to reach a conclusion following their talks with four US officers in toppled leader Saddam Hussein's palace in Mosul. The family was reportedly offered $7,500 in compensation for their loss, but they rejected the money and filed a lawsuit against the US over the murder.
Seven years after the incident, the family recently received news of their son from another truck driver who was held briefly in Abu Ghraib and released afterwards, at which time he got in touch with İlan's family at the Turkish-Iraqi border crossing at Habur and revealed that their son was alive and being held prisoner at Abu Ghraib Prison.
With revived hopes, Mehmet İlan, the father of Şehmus, appealed to Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to bring their son back home. “We have not been able to sleep for seven years. Please bring our son back,” father İlan reportedly said, imploring the top Turkish officials. No confirmation has been publicized by officials regarding the fate of the truck driver, or whether he is being held prisoner in Iraq.