A 57-year-old prisoner with toothache passes away at Turkey’s Mersin prison

The death of a sick prisoner, Yılmaz Duruk (57), who was hospitalised following he was diagnosed with infection, on November 17, 2017 that is seven months after applying to a doctor about his toothache complaints, was reported by Bianet on Tuesday.

Duruk, a prisoner kept in Mersin E-type Open Prison since April, 2017, has lost his life in Mersin University Hospital. His family applied to Turkey’s Center for Prison Studies/Civil Society in the Penal System(TCPS/CISST) on November 2 and reported that Duruk was taken to intensive care unit due to an infection that began at his teeth and later spread to his whole body. The family was told to “be prepared for everything” by the doctors. 15 days later, he was declared brain death.

According to information his family gave to CİSST, Duruk was arrested on March 27, 2017 and was sent to Mersin E-type Closed Prison. In the same month, Duruk applied to the prison doctor due to toothache complaints. After being kept for one month in closed prison, he was transferred to the open prison and he was examined by the prison doctor during March, April and August.

Seven months after his arrest, his doctor referred him to Mersin Toros State Hospital Emergency Polyclinic on October 24, 2017 due to a abscess in his teeth. His family reported that although Duruk fainted while waiting in the line at the hospital, he was given a serum and sent back to prison. According to the documents of the prison administration, Duruk was sent to the Faculty of Medicine Infection Polyclinic of Mersin University on October 26, 2017 again with an “emergency transfer” due to an infection.

İdil Aydınoğlu from CİSST, told Bianet that they spoke to relevant institutions on November 3, upon Duruk’s family’s complaint. On November 14, the prison administration responded to CİSST that “necessary examinations and treatments were undertaken for Duruk and that the prison did not act negligent on the matter”.

However, Aydınoğlu stated that “Normally, this open prison has a capacity of 140 people but at the moment there are 360 people. Since the capacities are exceeded, prisoners who do not fit in the wards, are staying in ateliers. This causes a serious hygiene problem and one inmate getting sick affects everyone else.”

Saying that the prisoners reported that the prison administration told them they ‘would not be sent to hospital except for heart attack,’ Aydınoğlu has said that “In addition, there are also claims that the doctors do not take sufficient care of the prisoners since prisoners’ ward is far away from the polyclinics where the doctors are in Mersin City Hospital.”

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