72-year-old Kurdish inmate dies shortly after belated release from prison

Hamdin Ördek, 72, a Kurdish inmate who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, died on Wednesday, six days after he was belatedly released from prison despite his deteriorating health, the Duvar news website reported.

He died of organ failure six days after his release at a hospital in the eastern Turkish province of Diyarbakır.

Ördek, who was in a prison in Giresun, was suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s. He lost consciousness in the last days of his imprisonment and was unable to take care of himself in prison.

The inmate was released on December 29 as a result of his family’s repeated requests that he be freed.

Elif Erkan, Ördek’s daughter, said, “When he was released, he said he was tortured in his cell and injured by the guards.”

Erkan previously said Ördek does not speak Turkish and could not communicate with anyone in prison, which caused him many problems in addition to his illness and the mistreatment he was subjected to.

“I will use all legal means for my father’s cause. They killed my father in prison,” Erkan said.

Opposition deputies and activists have repeatedly drawn attention to the plight of critically sick prisoners. Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy and human rights activist Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu earlier said ill prisoners were not released until they were at the point of no return. He claimed that prisoners did not have access to proper healthcare facilities such as hospitals or infirmaries.

According to the Human Rights Association (İHD), as of December 2022 there were 1,517 sick inmates in Turkish prisons, 651 of whom are critically ill. İHD Chairman Öztürk Türkdoğan said the number of ailing prisoners and the death toll could be much higher than the report indicated. Türkdoğan described the situation as a “structural problem.”

Most recently, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has put the blame on the country’s Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) for controversial reports on sick prisoners that lead to these people remaining in prison despite advanced illness. Bozdağ claimed in televised remarks that the government always wants the ATK to issue its reports in favor of sick prisoners but that when the ATK rules that a sick inmate is “fit to remain in prison,” there is nothing a prosecutor or a prison administrator can do to ensure their release.

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